In a very positive, and unusual, twist of events Tesla Motors has decided to compete on the quality of its electric cars instead of relying on an intellectual monopoly:
Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
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.
This move may single handedly do more for electric car development than anything else. Patents are the great barrier between markets and innovation. They prevent inventors from utilizing incremental advancements to create new incremental advancements and stifle innovation as patent holders see no reason to continue improving a product so long as they have a monopoly on it. My hope is that this move will lead other companies to do the same but I’m guessing that won’t be the case.