The billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk made a fortune from his PayPal business and then moved to make billions in building cars and rocket ships. And, because he’s known for thinking outside the box, there could be little surprise in his latest move.
The CEO took electric car startup company Tesla Motors – which although currently only makes a niche luxury battery electric car – to become America’s investor sweetheart, soaring in value in just two years to compete with multinational automakers.
Now, with big plans for the carmaker – an expanded line-up, the biggest Li-Ion cell battery in the world, and expansion to Europe and the world’s largest automotive market, all Musk needs for Tesla is traction.
That could be granted by the move – a singularity in the litigious world of patents – made now – Musk said yesterday that Tesla is going to pledge its patented inventions for the cars and batteries to the use of anyone that needs them “in good faith.”
Car companies “traditionally lock their intellectual property in a vault and steal everyone else’s,” said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan. “They will and should use anything that speeds development of their projects,” he added. “Not invented here’ makes no sense. They already get much of their innovation from outside their walls – from their suppliers.”
So far, there were two directions when it came to inventions that were not patented (which is a simple means of blocking others to use your technology) – either keep them a locked secret or make them publicly available. Tesla, as always, goes on its own route – keeps its patents but also from now on it makes them open to others.