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Tesla Releases Electric Car Patents To the Public 211

Posted by timothy
from the your-good-news-of-the-day dept.
mknewman (557587) writes with a welcome followup to the broad hints that Tesla might release some of its patents for others to use patents that it has amassed. Now, Elon Musk writes on the company's blog: 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.
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Tesla Releases Electric Car Patents To the Public

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  • Re:Trust but verify (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thaylin (555395) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:43PM (#47223651)

    Well the blog post is really all they need now. he is the CEO of the company, which means what he writes there is what it is. If they sue now there will be some massive fees for them..

    The question I would have though is what it means to be in good faith...

  • by Nygmus (3525773) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:50PM (#47223707)
    What's more likely is, they're wanting to expand the number of EVs on the road, because with the new "gigafactory' they're building they're poised to be one of the world's biggest suppliers of EV-grade lithium batteries. If Tesla never makes another car but every car on the road uses Tesla batteries for power storage, they still come out ahead.
  • by Bradmont (513167) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:56PM (#47223767)
    It would be amazing if he added a share-alike clause to licensing these patents. That is to say, make it free to use any of Tesla's patents, under the condition that you provide the same free access, under the same conditions, to any technology your company develops as a derivitave.
  • Briliant move (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trachman (3499895) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:58PM (#47223793)
    The easy way for Tesla to reaffirm their commitment to open source and innovation is to, specifically, allow those patents in question lapse by not to paying renewal fee. So how exactly shareholders will react? Old fashioned approach is that more competition is not good for the entity. However, Tesla realizes that freedom and liberty to create is so much more powerful, that additional entrants to the electric car industry will expand the infrastructure required to charge the cars, and, eventually, Tesla will win not by competing with others but by working and partnering with others. Remover restrictions, think outside the box and let others do the same, share success and support others and very soon you will see that everyone around you, including yourself, are incredibly successful and prosperous.
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:58PM (#47223795) Homepage
    Tesla is a publicly-owned company. Couldn't the shareholders bring a suit against the company's directors for basically giving asssets away for free? The claim "I did it to create an ecosystem that might bring profit in the future" might not go over in court.
  • Re:Trust but verify (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX (665546) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:02PM (#47223839)

    The question I would have though is what it means to be in good faith...

    Bingo.

    If I had any real forward momentum with an electric car design that might use something patented by Tesla, I'd approach them to get a formal agreement, even if it's just a rubber-stamp formality. The tens of thousands of dollars in lawyer costs to ensure that millions of dollars in lawsuits are avoided would be worthwhile.

    It is worthy to note that automakers have released patents before. Volvo invented the three-point seatbelt that has become the ubiquitous seatbelt today, and they felt that it was so important that they released their patent early specifically so that other automakers could make their cars safer.

    I kind of also expect that Tesla has something new, so these patents aren't all that important to protect their business, as their new thing will probably blow the doors off of the current stuff.

  • Is There A List? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:20PM (#47223997) Homepage Journal

    Read through the blog post, didn't see a link or listing of the patents that they've 'open-sourced.'

    Anybody know where to find them? I'm curious.

  • by bobbied (2522392) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:29PM (#47224083)

    many people are still afraid of electric cars for one reason or another.

    I'm not afraid of them, they just do not suit my daily driving needs and their TCO is still higher than the standard gasoline fueled cars available. It's not about fear, but economics and how impractical they are in practice. I need a car that can reliably go 200 miles at 30 - 70 MPH on a hot day without recharging, carry 4 comfortably and has a TCO that compares to the used Honda Accord I have now. Right now, such electric cars don't exist, or they are hugely expensive.

  • His past... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mycroft16 (848585) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:45PM (#47224627)
    It should be noted that Elon Musk has degrees in economics and physics as well as real world experience in the software field (PayPal) as well as engineering and business (SpaceX/Tesla). The man is incredibly intelligent and seems to really understand how things work. I'm willing to bet this decision wasn't made without the board. I'm sure Wall St won't like it and stocks may fall, but this is the correct decision. Musk is doing what many businesses don't seem to understand these days, playing the long game rather than the short game. He may lose a little in the short term, but long term, Tesla comes out a huge winner an brings up a whole lot of other winners with them. There's a good chance he explained all this to the board, and given their about to start battery production, they realized that they stand to have a huge revenue stream if they jump start the electric car industry in this way.
  • Re:Trust but verify (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SlaveToTheGrind (546262) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:49PM (#47224651)

    You're fully correct about the legal doctrine, but in reality there's a non-zero chance that it will cost you a very large number of dollars to defend a patent lawsuit filed by a future assignee who convinces the judge that even the "clearer statement" (1) wasn't so clear and/or (2) didn't apply to your particular use.

    There's actually a simple way that Tesla could make this binding -- formally disclaim the rest of the term of the patents at the Patent Office [uspto.gov].

    37 C.F.R. 1.321 Statutory disclaimers, including terminal disclaimers.
    (a) A patentee owning the whole or any sectional interest in a patent may disclaim any complete claim or claims in a patent. In like manner any patentee may disclaim or dedicate to the public the entire term, or any terminal part of the term, of the patent granted. Such disclaimer is binding upon the grantee and its successors or assigns. A notice of the disclaimer is published in the Official Gazette and attached to the printed copies of the specification.

    It will be interesting to see if they actually go that far.

  • Re:Thanks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @04:30PM (#47224935) Homepage

    start selling non-luxury consumer products, where the real market is

    You should tell that to Apple. Maybe they'll start selling low end devices. It's working out so great for HP, Samsung, HTC, Dell, and all the other device manufacturers. Oh. wait, it isn't. Apple is raking in tons of profits selling only high end devices, while all the other device manufacturers are fighting for the bottom of the market trying to figure out how to make a buck off people who don't want to spend money.

  • Re:Excellent! (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2014 @06:36PM (#47225703)

    Apple's innovation of the iPhone caused three handset companies to either go bankrupt or be broken apart and sold off: Motorola, Nokia, and Blackberry. Motorola's handset division is now owned by Lenovo. Nokia's handset division is now owned by Microsoft. And Blackberry, not ever big enough to have been broken apart, I think they just went bankrupt.

    We have better phones today, and yes, it is in large part due to the folks at Apple.

  • Re:Trust but verify (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dahamma (304068) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:05PM (#47226769)

    They don't really need something "new", because what they already have is a completely new mindset for a car company. They are so far ahead of the established old-thought auto makers in so many areas that it would take the rest of them a complete overhaul of their entire executive staff, middle management, engineer and design teams, factories, etc, to get close.

    Not to mention they are profitable and make an $80k+ niche car that has been backordered since well before it was ever released. At some level it's like Ferrari saying "ok, we are releasing the patents behind our $1M supercar" - the market is so specialized it wouldn't matter, and Ferrari's demand so outstrips their supply you basically have to get permission from Ferrari to even buy one [carsguide.com.au].

  • Re:Trust but verify (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Barsteward (969998) on Friday June 13, 2014 @03:00AM (#47227769)
    mercedes refused, for the benefit of everyone, to patent anti-lock brakes and it didn't do them any harm. not everything is for profit, sad life if it is.

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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