Tesla Motors has notified has granted a public and free license to its patent to anyone who uses their technology “in good faith.”:
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.
The idea is partially a philosophical bent, but it is also business – Tesla feels that it needs real competitors in the zero-emission auto market in order to truly grow the market.
No matter what, Tesla has benefitted from its patent program, because it prevented others from claiming what Tesla patented and used. At the same time, Tesla’s patents may very well have been valuable back when they were raising VC money, but they are obviously past that now.