Tesla Motors offers all its patents for good faith use
In order to boost the electric car industry, Tesla CEO Elon Musk vowed that the company would not sue when other companies use its patents.
Wayne CunninghamManaging Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
In a move calculated to boost the electric vehicle industry, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced the company would make all of its patented technology available for use by competitors. A blog post on Tesla Motors website offers Musk's reasons for the move.
In a press conference, Musk made it clear he was offering all of Tesla's patents, which amount to several hundred, up for use. He also vowed to make future patents available, which he claimed would ultimately reach the thousands.
Professing frustration with the current patent system, Musk outlined a sort of gentlemen's agreement between companies, vowing not to sue other automakers for using Tesla's patents, but expecting similar behavior from them.
Tesla's Supercharger technology, which can add 170 miles of range to the Model S in 30 minutes, is one area that Musk talked about for patent sharing. If other automakers built Supercharger capability into their electric cars, Musk said we would be "more than happy to have other manufacturers use Tesla's Supercharger network." However, he would also expect other manufacturers to build Supercharger stations, as Tesla has done.
Another area where automakers might consider using Tesla's patents is in battery pack construction. Tesla's battery packs use multiple small cells, along with power control software to prevent thermal overruns. Tesla spent many years developing that part of its technology equation.
Boosting the electric car industry would mean more competition for Tesla, but Musk pointed out that electric car production is currently less than 1 percent of total production. He noted that if all cars produced today were electric, it would still take 20 years to replace the current fleet of fossil fuel-burning cars.