In a bold and unexpected move, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who is sometimes referred to as the real life Tony Stark, has just announced that the electric car company will be embracing the spirit of the open source movement and has made its patents free for other car manufacturers to use.
The rationale behind this move is to hopefully speed up the adoption of electric vehicles. Many of today's new cars are still powered by gasoline or are at most hybrids.
"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," said Musk in a blog post on Tesla's website.
He also goes on to say that his fears that other companies would try to copy his technology and outproduce them turned out to be completely untrue. "The unfortunate reality is the opposite: 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."
Obviously, it goes without saying that this could be a risky move, but one that could have huge rewards. Just earlier this year, we reported that Tesla is beginning work on building a giant battery factory. If other car manufacturers do bite and begin their own electric car programs, Tesla would then have more customers to sell batteries to. On the flip side, other car manufacturers could also take Tesla's technologies and integrate it with their own and erode any advantage that Tesla might have.
Additionally, it also worth wondering just what Musk meant exactly when he said that he would not pursue lawsuits against those who use Tesla's patents "in good faith"?
Only time will tell how this will play out.