Tesla opens up EV patents

Tesla Model S front action
13 Jun, 2014 2:59pm Jordan Bishop

Tesla CEO Elon Musk gives rival manufacturers the green light to use the brand's electric vehicle technology

Tesla has taken the bold decision to ditch its range of technology patents, as part of the Californian manufacturer’s commitment to accelerate the use of electric vehicles.

“Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology,” explained CEO Elon Musk in a blog on the company website. 

Having removed these barriers – up until yesterday Tesla’s patents were on display at its Palo Alto headquarters – Musk hopes more people will be able to enjoy the benefits of EVs, as more manufacturers commit to advancing the platform.

The South Africa-born entrepreneur also believes the move underlines Tesla’s original mission statement.

“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’s decision to do away with patents may strike some as an unconventional business model at a time when companies work hard to guard their secrets, but in Musk’s opinion these legal safeguards merely serve to “stifle progress”.

He went on to add that an initial “concern that the big car companies would copy [Tesla’s technology] couldn’t have been more wrong.” It’s largely this realisation that has led to the new relaxed stance, with Musk hoping major manufacturers will now expand their “small to non-existent” electric car programmes.

Despite the move, Tesla doesn’t expect its own business to suffer – aside from the positive publicity, Musk is confident it will help the company “attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers.”

Indeed, this new approach comes as Tesla looks to expand its European operations, a plan that includes building a network of ‘Supercharger’ fast-charging power units across the UK by the end of 2015, as well as establishing a British-based R&D centre.