There are far too many headlines about Company X suing Company Y over alleged patent infringement, and Company Z spending an inordinate amount of money on patents in hopes of not being the next to be hit with a lawsuit. It's become a game of sorts, and unfortunately it stifles innovation and growth. Luckily, not everyone wants to play. Tesla
CEO Elon Musk, for example, penned a blog post about how it's tearing down its wall of patents (literally).
"Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case," Musk begins. "They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology."
Let that sink in for a moment. Tesla is arguably at the forefront of a revolution in the automobile industry, one that could change the landscape forever. There are mountains of cash to be made from leading the charge, but it would mean slowing down progress. Instead, Musk has chosen to take the high road with Tesla for the greater good.
It's a refreshing angle, and one that ironically enough was motivated by big automobile makers largely ignoring the electric vehicle movement. According to Musk, electric car programs at major manufacturers are "small to non-existent" with an average of less than 1 percent of their total vehicle sales.
"Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous," Musk explains. "Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.
We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform."
Tesla owns hundreds of approved patents, which include technologies that allow its cars to recharge faster
than other electric vehicles. But patents alone don't change an industry and Tesla's rivals will have access to the same ground breaking technologies. Regardless, you have to admire the spirit of this move by Tesla, more than anything else.