Elon Musk, CEO at Tesla Motors and SpaceX, is always rocking the proverbial boat. He always stays a step ahead. When most companies are raging war regarding patent, Tesla’s taking an unprecedented step of opening all its electric car patents to outside use.
Back in June 2014, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of their Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology. The company made a promise not to sue anyone for using them, “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.” Before opening the source, Tesla’s policy was, “We felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.”
Elon Musk stated that the open source is one of the ways his company can help combat climate change. He said that Tesla cannot do it alone fighting carbon crisis. He added that Tesla’s patent is completely free for anyone to use, no questions asked and no licensing needed. Musk thinks this is better because Tesla doesn’t need to get into any kind of discussions whatsoever. Aside aiding climate change, freeing patent could also aide Tesla’s rate of adoption. It may encourage other companies to start building charging stations and other products that would support Tesla’s growth. Sharing ideas could help speed along innovation, creating greater opportunities by helping Tesla put more electric vehicles on the market, meaning more overall infrastructure that makes Tesla cars more valuable.
No doubt Musk believes that if the industry embraces EVs, then Tesla will succeed as part of it. His company believes that Tesla, other companies making EVs and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform. Tesla thinks that technology leadership is not defined by patents, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented Engineers. Tesla believes that applying the open source philosophy to their patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.
Tesla has already created a name for itself in the EV space and its rivals are growing bigger. General Motors continue to show serious interest in the EV space. Apple is reportedly building an iCar with its “Project Titan” and CEO Tim Cook says he believes that the auto space is ready for a massive change. Google already has its cute self-driving cars logging miles on the roads and it is only a matter of time before it starts working with an OEM to mass-produce them. Faraday Future has also brought a twist to the story with the deep pockets and the talent that it boasts. Tesla has more to gain from these rivals though.
Tesla has gone a long way after surviving many of its early problems that snuffed the life out of previous upstarts and startups in the EV space. Three Tesla cars are already cruising on the road: Roadster, Model S and Model X. It has set the bar higher with autonomous feature and a more economical EV, Model 3 which will be available in March 2016.