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"All Our Patent Are Belong To You" -- Elon Musk

Tesla Motors [and SpaceX] CEO Elon Musk is a man looking to change the world. The man is practically a real life Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark in the Iron Man and Avengers movies is based partially on Musk) and has big plans for the future of automobiles and space travel.
 
Tesla’s Model S electric sedan has garnered praise from around the world, is handily outselling flagship models from German luxury marques, and is Consumer Reports’ highest rated vehicle of all-time. Likewise, his SpaceX venture has ventured to the International Space Station (ISS) on numerous supply runs with its unmanned Dragon capsule, and is vying for the chance to send American astronauts (seven at a time) into Earth’s orbit (and beyond) with its Dragon V2 capsule.


Tesla Motors, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk [Image source: BriteBits]
 
For all of his successes, it looks as though Musk is looking to give a little bit back. Yesterday, he gave us a teaser with this Twitter post:


Earlier today, he posted the following tweet confirming that Tesla would open up its patent portfolio:
 

Sure enough, the reports were true, with Musk making the official announcement in a blog entitled “All Our Patent Are Belong To You.” Musk writes that his war chest of patents was originally built up as a defense mechanism to larger automotive companies that would likely just come in and rip off Tesla’s technology. However, Musk says that his initial defensiveness was misguided, as traditional automakers are still far behind in the electric vehicle movement.
 
He goes on to state:
 
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.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. 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, “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.”


Tesla's "Patent Wall" has been torn down. [Image source: Steve Jurvetson/flickr]
 
He goes on to state that larger auto manufacturers are building primarily compliance EVs that sell in small numbers and have a limited driving range (think Ford Focus Electric, Fiat 500e, BMW/Mini Cooper E). Only the Nissan Leaf has sold in significant numbers in recent years, but still has a driving range of only 84 miles. The base Model S can travel 208 miles per charge, while the higher end models can travel 265 miles.
 
Musk hopes that by freely making its technology patents available to all, the whole EV movement can progress at a faster rate to combat the “enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.” And it also wouldn't hurt Tesla to have more charging stations littered across the U.S. (and the world) that are compatible with Tesla vehicles. 


Tesla Model S
 
By lowering the barrier of entry, and providing easy access to technologies brought forth by arguably the most advanced EV maker on the planet, this can only mean good things for the EV market. 

And just to show that it isn't all business over at Tesla Motors, the company's offiical Twitter account explained Musk's blog headline with the following:


Source: Tesla Motors





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