On Thursday, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk announced on the company’s site (in a post titled “All Our Patents Are Belong to You”) that the electric car company would stop pursuing patent enforcement for anyone using their technology “in good faith.” (What that means exactly is still open to interpretation.)
Why make this radical move away from clamping down on patented ideas and devices to protect one’s business interests? In Musk’s words:
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. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.
We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.
In effect, there’s no real competition in the electric car market and Musk views fossil fuel emissions as the greater threat. Also, conveniently, by opening up their technology to the hivemind, it takes some tasks off Tesla’s plate, such as building and installing more charging stations built to a universal standard around the world thus laying the critical foundation necessary to accelerate growth in the electric car market.
If you’re curious about what technology is now yours to play with, you can view Tesla Motor’s patent list here.