‘Sharing is Caring,’ says Tesla’s Elon Musk
It is official – Elon Musk is on a mission to kill the gasoline engine, revolutionise personal automobile ownership and our means of how we power it. And he intends to do this soon. In a recent announcement, the CEO and founder of Tesla Motors Inc announced that the patents held by the company were open to use by anyone and the company wold not take legal action against anyone as long as they used the patented technology in good faith.
According to the Tesla website, the move is designed to spur innovation as Musk believes that other automakers’ electric vehicles are not its competition but instead wants them to focus on the millions of petrol vehicles that are being shipped around the world annually.
‘Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,’ Musk writes. ‘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.’
Musk is attempting to boost sales of his US$71,000 Tesla S by more than 56% this year, particularly with sales into China where technology sharing has always been considered a problem and invariably labelled as pirating. Tesla is already supplying batteries to Toyota Motor Corp and to Daimler, both of whom are shareholders in Tesla Motors.
‘It doesn’t really harm Tesla but helps the industry,’ Musk is reported to have said during a telephone interview ‘and I think actually it will help Tesla, mostly with respect to attracting and motivating the world’s best technical talent. Investors should be more concerned about whether a company is able to attract and motivate the best talent than the contents of its patent portfolio. Putting in long hours for a corporation is hard, putting in long hours for a cause is easy.’
In the past few years, a lot of tech companies have started to view patents as more open-source and view patent litigation as a drain on innovation. However, most companies still patent their innovation to stop others from doing it and blocking them in the future. Musk has said that Tesla Motors will continue to file patents for this reason.
Any patent owned by Tesla’s supplier, Panasonic Corp, are not included in the sharing move, Musk said. Panasonic and Tesla have teamed up to create the so-called gigafactory, a venture designed at producing more batteries than the entire world’s current capacity – a move which is seen as part of Musk’s mission to rid the world of gasoline engines by ensuring that batteries are affordable. Many industry insiders and commentators think the factory is a mistake as by the time it comes on stream, battery technology will have moved on and the factory will become obsolete.