Timothy Moore
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Open Source Tesla Patents Are Now a Thing

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Elon Musk for President?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made Tesla patents open source material.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made Tesla patents open source material.

Earlier this week, Musk hinted that he might be opening up all Tesla patents to the public. Just a few days later, Mr. Musk has delivered on his promise.

In his own press release (okay, okay, yes, it was probably ghost written, but it still has his name on it), Musk said, “Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our 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.”

According to Musk, there is no sense in clearing a path to the creation of sustainable transportation and then laying “intellectual property landmines behind” to stop others from sharing in this creation.

Wait, hold the phone. So rather than be greedy and keep his secrets to himself, Musk wants to progress the electric car movement to create a more sustainable world? What a revolutionary idea.

Musk wrote, “At Tesla, however, 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.”

Open source Tesla patents - Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S

To be honest, most automakers that do offer any type of electric vehicle are mostly doing so to meet growingly rigid CAFE standards, not to further the green car movement. Musk, on the other hand, only offers electric vehicles because he does actually care about sustainable transportation, and he wants other automakers to care too.

Musk added, “We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

“Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.”

I hope that he’s right.

Timothy Moore takes his leadership inspiration from Michael Scott, his writing inspiration from Mark Twain, and his dancing inspiration from every drunk white guy at a wedding. When Tim is not writing about cars, he’s working on his novel or reading someone else’s, geeking out over strategy board games, hiking with his pooch, or channeling his inner Linda Belcher over beers with his friends. See more articles by Timothy.