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Tesla Releases Electric Car Patents To the Public 211

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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  • Trust but verify (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cunniff ( 264218 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:40PM (#47223609) Homepage

    If I were personally going to use one of Tesla's patents in my business, I'd want a signed zero-cost GPL-like license agreement with Tesla. For example, Musk's good will is nice, but what if someone else were to acquire Tesla's IP?

  • by ramorim ( 1257654 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:49PM (#47223703) Homepage Journal
    This is called the real source of innovation: open source, open knowledge. Comparatively speaking: If the C programming language were closed source, companies like Apple would never be what it is today. Or even the actual jump in technology our society leaped. Maybe, with this action, Tesla can not only open a path for innovation, standardization, but most important (for them) they will be able to grow faster and faster technologically and in the market.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:53PM (#47223747)

    Extort? A company making money is not "extortion".

  • Thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <> on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:54PM (#47223759) Journal

    Thank you Elon Musk.

    If only every other CEO had the same courage. Also, if he's willing to do this for SpaceX, I have no problems with a private company doign space exporation.

  • by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:15PM (#47223951)
    Well that is one of the things that SCO failed on in court so I am fairly certain you are incorrect. This gives the other company an affirmative defense.
  • Re: Thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:23PM (#47224017)

    SpaceX doesn't have any patents to give away (or at least not many). This was intentional, because the entities most likely to violate the patents wouldn't be bound by them (certain countries). Getting a patent requires publishing the details, and all that does for a country that ignores patents is make it easier to copy.

  • Re:Thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbhacking ( 979169 ) <been_out_cruisin ...> on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:23PM (#47224469) Homepage Journal

    Tesla and SpaceX are currently in very, very different markets. Tesla is selling luxury consumer products, and trying to get the economies of scale + technical innovation to start selling non-luxury consumer products, where the real market is. They are also competing against an entrenched, widely-deployed technology that has been in widespread use for longer than 99.9% of the human race has been alive. They need their product to become more than a niche, and they need to have viable competition if for no other reason than for the legitimacy that competition brings.

    SpaceX sells cheap, high-tech rocket launches, where cheap means something like what a "cheap" computer in the 50s would mean: governments and really big organizations can afford to buy them, and nobody else is even going to consider it. In a way, they're the opposite of Tesla: rather than being a luxury brand trying to get cheaper, they're aiming to be the cheap alternative to the existing competition.

    Unlike Tesla, SpaceX is not publicly traded and does not file for patents. Patents provide no meaningful protection against the Chinese or Russian governments, which are the organizations SpaceX is most interested in competing with. SpaceX patenting their stuff would allow those entities to undercut SpaceX for the small number of customers that even exist in such a space, because they could use the disclosed technology without needing to recoup R&D investments or pay California salaries and regulatory costs.

    The problem is that SpaceX is the only organization in the world currently demonstrating great success in disrupting the entrenched space launch market, and they need to (and do) re-invest their profits from those launches into producing still-better (cheaper) launchers if the want to achieve their stated goals of making space access cheap enough that actual human beings can afford it. They can't afford to be undercut, because there just aren't enough customers right now for them to afford to do other than fight for every purchase they can get. Tesla can totally afford to be undercut; it will help grow their market (electric car owners) and meanwhile there will always be people who will buy their cars just because the market is big enough.

  • by Bengie ( 1121981 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @04:04PM (#47224769)
    A change in ownership doesn't change the fact that the "company" stated they won't sue over certain patents. I can't invite you over, then bet you with a baseball bat, claiming self defense against a trespasser.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @04:04PM (#47224771)

    That would defeat their ability to use the patents defensively. For example, Toyota coming after them for violating some Prius patent.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Thursday June 12, 2014 @04:20PM (#47224867) Homepage Journal

    There is a middle ground. They could issue a zero-cost, binding, globally-applicable patent license with an exception that withdraws the license from anyone who sues them. This is actually pretty common, and I think it would be a much better choice than placing the patents in the public domain.

    I expect something like that will be forthcoming. So far all we have is a blog post; I imagine the more substantive version from the legal department is in progress.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Thursday June 12, 2014 @04:23PM (#47224883) Homepage Journal

    The plaintiffs would have to demonstrate how the company lost value by them doing that.

    Also, if the articles of incorporation or the IPO documentation includes a statement indicating that increasing the use of electric vehicles is a corporate goal, alongside of, or even more important than, making money, then this move could be perfectly aligned with the stated corporate goals which the investors bought into, even if it can be proven that this move decreased share value.

  • Re:Thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Meyaht ( 2729603 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @05:45PM (#47225399)
    In this context I personally would hesitate to call Apple (luxury in your case) vs Samsung (non-luxury) a viable retort to a Tesla vs say a last year's Honda Civic. (I have a galaxy s4 mini, which I would easily compare to last year's civic.) Pretty much any high school grad auto mechanic can have an iPhone. Pretty much anyone *but* a top earner or someone in their 50's can afford the Tesla. Thoughts?
  • Re:His past... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @07:31PM (#47226019) Journal
    The guy reminds me of Henry Ford who (against all prevailing business wisdom) famously instituted a 40hr week at his factories only to see productivity skyrocket. Forceful, erratic, unapologetic, and willing to act "out of the box" rather than just think about it, that can be dangerous in a CEO, but it's mandatory if you want to want to build something like Ford from the bottom up.

Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!