Tesla Motors and CEO Elon Musk announced an opening of all their electric car patents to the general public for use in good faith. This initiative, Musk claims, was made to stem climate change as it was impossible for Tesla Motors to build electric cars fast enough to address the looming carbon crisis.
Addressing the issue of competition from large manufacturers, Musk further stated, “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.”
Patent pledges are gaining popularity as part of the open source movement and Tesla has taken one more step towards this, following in the footsteps of Google and Twitter. Patent pledges rely on the doctrines of implied license and Estoppel and the alleged infringer, if any must show that they had knowledge of the same. However no litigation regarding pledges has been recorded till date.
With regard to the question of claiming their IP rights Musk stated that, “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.”
Toeing the line between asserting IP rights and forwarding the open source movement is gaining strength in many sectors, primarily ICT and will play a decisive role in the future of IPR, as Tesla’s initiative has shown.