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Tesla gives away its electric car patents

Electric car manufacturer Tesla has taken the major step of making its patents freely available to anyone who wants to use the firm’s technology.

Tesla Motors has been blazing a trail recently with developments in its electric car technology. But on 12 June, chief executive Elon Musk made a huge declaration that could have huge implications for the future development of eco-friendly transport.

 

In a blog post, Mr Musk announced that the wall of Tesla patents which formed part of the lobby in its California headquarters had been taken down. From now on, anyone is free to use the company’s advances to develop their own technology, provided they act “in good faith”. The company will not try to take legal action against anyone who uses any of their patented designs.

 

It’s a massive move from Tesla, which has basically just given all of its technology away to its competitors “in the spirit of the open source movement”.

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” writes Mr Musk.

“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.”

He says that there were concerns in the early days of Tesla that big companies would swoop on any unpatented designs and use them to overtake the firm. Instead, car manufacturers are lagging behind, with some still not working on any zero-emission cars whatsoever.

But with more and more new drivers and extra cars on the road each year, Mr Musk believes the whole world would benefit from access to Tesla’s technology to start producing more electric cars faster.

 

It is likely there is also a business logic to the move. As Forbes reports, more investment in electric vehicle technology could massively increase the size of Tesla’s potential market – and it has also fuelled talk of a collaboration deal with BMW.

What’s more, VentureBeat argues that by making some Tesla tech a “standard platform” for electric vehicles, the firm could encourage other businesses to build charging stations and other support services that it needs.

Yet either way, if the move does encourage an increase in research and development for electric vehicles, the upshot is likely to be positive from an environmental point of view. With hundreds of millions of cars on the world’s roads, it will take the efforts of every manufacturer to meet that demand with enough sustainable technology.


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