Tesla Motors will allow competitors to use its electric car patents

Elon Musk presents the new Model S electric vehicle from Tesla Motors at a car show in Europe.

In a rather surprising and unprecedented move, Tesla Motors, the U.S. electric car company, has announced that they will allow their competitors to use their patents. Tesla Motors is giving access to its patents in an effort to spur the global use of green electric cars to address the climate crisis. At least that’s what Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Motors, claimed in a post on the company’s blog.

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” Musk wrote. “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. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

According to Musk, Tesla Motors originally created the patents for fears that the larger car companies would simply copy their electric car technology and sidestep Musk and his car company with their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power.

“We couldn’t have been more wrong,” Musk said. “At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.”

Global vehicle production is nearing 100 million cars per year but not even one percent of these are electric cars, or vehicles that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons. Considering that the global car fleet is nearing two billion, Musk believes that Tesla Motors competition are not other car manufactories, instead it’s all the gasoline cars that rolls out of factories every single day.

“It is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis,” Musk said. “We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.”

But Musk and Tesla Motors is not only doing this to fight climate change, or because they represent some sort of new philanthropic, open-source corporate movement.

Tesla Motors are expected to build a huge factory, nicknamed the Gigafactory, in the U.S. that will produce the company’s unique batteries. These cylindrical batteries are the key feature that allow electric cars from Tesla Motors to double, or even triple, its driving range compared to other electric vehicles.

“Even if other competitors copy Tesla’s design, Tesla still gets to sell them batteries, and that’s pretty awesome. Tesla’s decision isn’t entirely altruistic,” patent law expert Jacob Sherkow told the Los Angeles Times.


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