In Brief

Free for All: Tesla Motors Makes Electric Car Patents Open Source

Tesla Model S Sedan.
Tesla Model S Sedan. (Image credit: Tesla)

In a bold move, Tesla Motors is making all the patents for the company's electric car technology free and available for anyone to use. In a blog entry posted today (June 12), Tesla founder and chief operating officer Elon Musk said the decision to share the company's patents was made "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," Musk wrote in the blog post. "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."

Musk, who also founded the commercial spaceflight company SpaceX, added that in the current world of rapidly evolving tech, patents often stifle the flow of progress. "Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world's most talented engineers," the trailblazing entrepreneur wrote.

By making Tesla's patents open source, Musk said he hopes to bolster the electric car industry, which is still heavily outmuscled by traditional car companies, and make strides in stemming harmful emissions that are contributing to global warming.

"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," Musk wrote.

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Denise Chow
Live Science Contributor

Denise Chow was the assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.