Elon Musk is well known for his sudden and unexpected announcements via the Tesla Motors blog and this is no exception. Following the methods employed by many software companies, Tesla have decided to release their patents to the world under the auspices of spreading their knowledge and expertise.
Elon Musk stated on his blog:
“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.”
Although this is indeed a generous move from the small and recent motoring manufacturer, it is unlikely to be of much significance to the wider world since in many ways Tesla’s technology is nothing new apart from their proprietary software.
In fact, while transparency is being touted as the main reason for releasing the patents, the alternative hypothesis is that patents are costly to companies and also expose their most intimate secrets to a publicly accessible register.
However, putting the sinic aside, Tesla has shown willingness to share it’s technology before with the likes of Daimler and Toyota specifically, each of whom own 10% in Tesla. For Toyota, Tesla were contracted to supply the drivetrain and software for the American sold RAV4 EV. Likewise, Daimler have benefited from using Tesla battery technology in their smart fortwo EV and their Mercedes B Class EV which features a Tesla derived complete drivetrain.
As Elon Musk puts it:
“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. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.”
As to whether or not this is a marketing ploy, money saving tactic or genuine act of kindness is up for debate.