Elon Musk Sparks Fire in the Electric Car Movement By Giving Away Patents

elon2Yesterday, Elon Musk ignored the press, scoffed at the nosey reporters that are always looking for the inside scoop, and went straight to the people.

In an official blog post from Elon himself, Musk announced that he will be giving away his patents to the open market. Musk writes, “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

Wait… What???

Elon Musk is planning on GIVING his inventions away?

Yes, it is true, but don’t be fooled by the heterodoxy of this move. The decision is not crazy, nor is it a showcase of Musk’s generosity. This is strictly a business move, and a pretty savvy one at that.

It’s savvy because the release of Tesla’s patents helps to push other companies into joining the electric car race, which at this point has not taken off. In fact, for 2013, electric vehicle sales only snagged .5% of the market share. With all companies now open to Tesla’s technology, though, this number will surely rise. The more competition will help to bring new innovations, lower electric car prices, and make the electric vehicle more mainstream.

In his recent blog post, Musk writes, “Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers.”

tesla2But did Musk just jeopardize his company’s primetime spot as the premier electric car manufacturer with this decision?

Absolutely not! Over the past few years, Musk has been preparing for this move by working on building his very own “gigafactory” to make the batteries that all electric cars need to operate. With this factory, he’ll be able to sell products to competing companies while keeping the inside track to innovation (he also still has a number of more innovative patents that he has not released).

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, patent law expert Jacob Sherkow says, “Even if other competitors copy Tesla’s design, Tesla still gets to sell them batteries, and that’s pretty awesome.”

Not only is it awesome, it is amazing. Through all of these moves, Musk seems to be single handedly dictating an entire industry. He is doing it by developing affordable electric cars, giving away patents, and building “gigafactories.” Oh yeah, and he’s also currently working on building a network of recharging stations that will span across the country.

Musk writes, “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.”

Well, based on this decision, Musk is certainly not laying down any landmines.

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