In a press release titled “All Our Patents Are Belong To You,” Tesla CEO and Zero Wingenthusiast Elon Musk opened up all of his company’s patents, allowing other automakers and designers free, unrestricted access to Tesla’s technology.
Musk believes this unprecedented move is necessary because major auto manufacturers aren’t moving quickly enough to develop long-range electric cars, like his Model S and upcoming Model X. Isn’t that kind of like saying ‘if you can’t beat us, join us?’
Because Teslas have been selling extremely well, this looks to be a very honorable move. Tesla didn’t need to do this. Musk could have kept the patents secure to cement its prominence in the electric vehicle market, but instead, the American automaker tore them up in support of an open source movement.
“If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal,” said Musk. “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
In the past, Musk embraced patents, as he felt that they protected his company from being overpowered by larger, EV-producing companies like Chevrolet and Nissan. When he looked at the big picture, though, Musk felt that the benefits of having more EVs on the road was worth the risk.
“We couldn’t have been more wrong,” he explained. “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.”
“Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis,” he continued. “We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.”
In a world where automakers are constantly at one another’s throats (which is not necessarily a bad thing) it’s refreshing to see a company let its guard (and ego) down in pursuit of global change. That sounds like a trend we can all get behind.