By on June 13, 2014


Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made available to all interested parties — including automakers — every patent related to the automaker’s electric-vehicle technology in the hope more EVs will be built.

Autoblog reports Musk had made a personal policy not to take out patents on any project he created, believing doing so actually meant buying “a lottery ticket to a lawsuit.” With Tesla, however, he claimed as many patents as he could to protect the EV automaker from the competition. To his dismay, the competition wasn’t competing at all:

… 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.

Thus, all patents in Tesla’s front office have been taken down as a sign of Musk’s willingness to help spur EV and ZEV development among the majors, believing “Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.” Musk also stated the open-sourcing of the patents would boost Tesla’s position as a technology leader.

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18 Comments on “Tesla Opens Patents To All Potential EV, ZEV Automakers Immediately...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Well, he just diminished the intellectual property efforts of his engineers, wasted the time of the various patent offices, and erased the IP protection work of the lawyers.

    One potential risk is copycatting by low-cost mfrs. A Chinese-made “alset” might be very attractive to certain customers.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess he forgot to figure that in – what an oversight. I’m also going to call google and see how that android debacle is working out for them. Some people never learn.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      Its actually a fair bit more subtle, its more a declaration of “defense only”. If someone sues Tesla and is infringing on Tesla’s patents, they will go to the mat with the patents.

      So the patents will still have value for defense, but its really a pledge of “no offense”: “we have an easy cross-license agreement where you get access to our patents in return for giving us access to yours”.

    • 0 avatar

      Totally agreed. Korea will take this and run like hell just like they did with Nissan and Mitsubishi during their IMF catastrophe. Koreans will get it down to the colors of uniforms and color of factory automation machines. Tesla may regret this one…

  • avatar

    I would rather have “Tesla’s performance” but Fisker/Volt/ELR gas backup with plug-in hybrid technology.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      Even better would be to throw the BMW i3 ReX in the frunk.

      The Model S is actually designed to be a generator backup car like the i3: there is a ton of room under the hood to fit one and still have a usable locking storage, but they refuse to do that (yet), probably for image reasons. Its the same with battery swapping. “No, its a lame idea. Oh, BTW, we designed this thing for battery swap stations”.

      A 40 kWh Tesla (150 mile electric) with a 150 mile gas-range extender would be a really nice package, and cheaper than the current base model, yet still count as “electric” for the emissions credits they sell, and able to use that worldwide network of 3 MW “quickchargers” called gas pumps instead of Tesla’s (‘we call 30 minutes to an hour “fast”‘) Superchargers.

      I think, however, that Tesla won’t do such a thing until Model S sales start declining.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Perhaps, but not with Otto-cycle engines. Free-piston linear motors or hydrocarbon SOFCs please!

      • 0 avatar

        >> Free-piston linear motors or hydrocarbon SOFCs please!


        Here’s Toyota’s free-piston:

  • avatar

    Oh, all it means is that he’s ready to move on from building cars, and segue into battery manufacturing. If the Tesla fires (and GM’s current problems) told him anything, it’s that car manufacturing is liability-laden, and subject to politician grandstanding. Opening up the patents to major manufacturers is a way to enlarge the battery market and put some distance between his investment and liability issues.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    And in related news, Hyundai just sold its first fuel cell Tucson:

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      HFCs are ridiculous.

      I could drive my Leaf across the country if I begged enough people for their cheap power. That Tuscon can’t leave its neighborhood no matter what happens, and its operating cost per mile is the same as a mid-sized car.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Tesla’s gas gauge is reported to be quite accurate; I’d like to see Nissan use it in the Leaf because theirs is terrible.

  • avatar

    God Musk is a complete ass.

  • avatar

    I’ve heard it speculated that this is a response to Tesla Motors stock being downgraded to ‘Junk Bond’ status, releasing the patents to make Tesla less attractive for hostile takeover.

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