Tesla open-sources patents to its EV and supercharging technologies

Article by Andrew Christian, on June 17, 2014

Other carmakers could now gain open-source access to Tesla Motors intellectual property, chief executive Elon Musk said in his blog. He said that the carmaker has released its legal right to defend its electric vehicle patents against anyone who wants to use Tesla’s technology in good faith. He said that laying “intellectual property landmines” to inhibit other carmaker is contrary to the goal of creating compelling EVs.

Musk said in a conference call that “several hundred patents, at some time several thousand patents” for Tesla vehicles and supercharging technology will become open source, except for the battery packs it co-developed with Panasonic.

He said that Tesla would only make its own patents as open source. Since the battery packs are products of Panasonic’s patents, Tesla cannot speak on its partner’s behalf. “Anything joint with Panasonic would need their sign-off,” Musk said.

He said that Tesla will continue to apply for patents as it develops new technology, noting that the carmaker will also make them open source. He remarked that if other companies would file patents as “blocking maneuvers,” Tesla just have to file patents before they do.

Musk pointed that out that carmakers would only pursue EVs if the road ahead is clear. He noted that releasing the patents doesn’t harm Tesla and helps the industry.

Musk remarked that the carmaker would only file legal action when a rival attempts to trick consumers into thinking that a car it is a Tesla car when it is not.

According to Musk, there is a more altruistic purpose for open-sourcing Tesla patents – to help the industry build EVs fast enough to address the carbon crisis, which is something that the EV maker cannot do alone. He said that Tesla’s true competition is not the EVs made by other carmakers, but the “enormous flood of gasoline cars.”

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