Elon Musk Reminds Us Of Tesla’s Mission And Open Patents

FEB 12 2019 BY EVANNEX 58


As Elon Musk has said many times, Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the electrification of transport. The company wants everyone to drive an electric car, even if it isn’t a Tesla. This is not just talk – in 2014, Tesla released its patents, making its patented technology available to anyone who wants to use it.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: In Tesla’s factory, artwork pays homage to the Zero Wing gaming meme, “OEMs: All our patent are belong to you” (Source: 8 Bit Central)

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” wrote Elon in a blog post announcing the move. “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.”

Recently, with article after article after article underlining the seriousness of the climate change crisis, and the urgent need for action, Musk felt the need to remind everyone that these patents are available, and to reiterate his call for other automakers to get serious about going electric.

There are encouraging signs that some of them are at least considering beginning to think about doing so. Jaguar and Audi have compelling new electric crossovers coming to market, and many other automakers have announced plans for substantial new investments. However, despite the mainstream media’s credulous crowing about “Tesla killers,” the e-revolution is still just beginning, as Elon Musk acknowledged in a recent Twitter message.

“Exciting to see all the new electric vehicles coming to market! We created Tesla to accelerate a sustainable future & it’s happening!” the Iron Man tweeted. However, he qualified his excitement by repeating a statement he made in 2014: “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.”

Above: Model X rendering from one of Tesla’s patents (Source: Tesla via Motor Beam)

There’s an interesting back story here: YourStory and NDTV both recently recounted the tale of how Musk’s attitude toward patents evolved over time. Back in 1995, when Elon and his brother Kimbal started an internet mapping company called Zip2 (as told in my history of Tesla), they worked hard to secure patents, but Elon takes a different view these days. “Maybe [patents] were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations, and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors,” Musk wrote in 2014. “After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.”

During the early days of Tesla, Musk and company still saw patents as a necessary defensive weapon against Big Auto. “At Tesla, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales, and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla,” Musk continued. “We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite; electric car programs…at major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1 percent of their total vehicle sales.”

Five years later, Tesla has expanded exponentially, but the major automakers’ production of plug-in vehicles has grown from a trickle to a slightly larger trickle. The goal of reducing the world’s fossil fuel consumption seems to be as far out of reach as ever. Tesla can’t get the job done alone, to say the least. As a recent article in Drivingpoints out, since Model S was introduced in 2012, the additional emissions from increasing truck sales have wiped out the greenhouse gas reduction from the EVs Tesla has sold many times over.

Elon foresaw this back in 2014. “Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis,” he wrote. “We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.”

Above: Elon Musk has openly expressed enthusiasm over automakers using Tesla’s patents (Youtube: USA Today)

How ironic it is that, while so many auto pundits are convinced that Tesla fears competition from the legacy automakers, in fact the company is practically begging for them to do their worst – not out of bravado, but out of a sincere desire to address air pollution and climate change.


Written by: Charles Morris

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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58 Comments on "Elon Musk Reminds Us Of Tesla’s Mission And Open Patents"

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If he really wants to accelerate the electrification…. it’s time to open up those CCS Tesla chargers in Europe to other cars.

That would help a lot? I guess it would help somewhat. Couldnt it also cause issues?

How so?
They would just get clogged with slow loading cars.
And, he DID invite other companies to join the SC network. Nobody was prepared to use it and invest into it.
Their loss.

They could solve that by charging high time bases fees, so that cars with slow charging CSS vehicles wouldn’t bothers due to cost. Those that can charge at a higher rate, wouldn’t be impacted.

That’s not the issue. For every hour a slow charging car is there, that’s an hour that 30 Teslas couldn’t add as much range as that slower car added. I can add almost 80 miles to a Model 3 in 10 minutes. A car with slow charging that can add 14 miles in an hour would add only 2.3 miles in that 10 minutes. If a driver is willing to pay, it ties up space.

Tesla made it clear in 2014 or earlier that it would open its supercharger network to other manufacturers as long as they supported fast charging and they handled the cost of charging with no need for Tesla to collect money for each charge.

What would that accomplish in practice? There are already competing/completing networks (IONITY, FastNed) with greater capacity than Tesla’s. Mission accomplished in that regard.

Tesla is open to sharing with those who want to contribute. And contribute they will have to because what infrastructure Tesla has now will struggle to deal with the tsunami of Model 3s that’s currently flooding the market.

If they charged non-Tesla’s a higher rate to use the SC network, they could use those funds. Make it a profit center for non-Tesla’s. That way, EV users are helping the build out. Why should other automakers have to contribute?

Right. Tesla PAYS for building, maintaining and using the electricity while others just suck off the teat of Tesla?

It sounds like YOUR goal isn’t to “accelerate the electrification” but to instead bankrupt Tesla.

How would Tesla charging a fair market value to help recoup the necessary investments to keep it up and expand be “suckling of the tenet” of Tesla.

Other DCFC network operators do exactly the same. They don’t ask automakers to help them expand. They charge what they need to charge to make a viable business.

Add CCS to SC’s in North America and open to all EVs.

He’s willing, but the other companies have to share the cost. But no conventional car company will pay for charging infrastructure with Tesla branding, even if it is good for their customers. I was hoping that Jaguar would be the exception, but no sign of that so far.

electric ships can charge from fleets of bigsail catamarans

The mayority of humans on earth are having a hard time understanding that someone can act from a different place than intention of self-gain… Musk is showing a necessary change in our mentally if we are not to drive ourselfs off the cliff.

Musk is acting for self gain as well, but his motives are different. His gain is he wants to see this future of being interplanetary, sustainable, etc. I think your typical Alpha Male types have a hard time understanding that so resort to lowbrow tactics to try to undermine his power.

The open patent position by Tesla is completely forgotten by every “analyst” that’s in love with the “Tesla Killer” term. If anything, I think Elon is frustrated at how slow the legacy manufacturers have been to adopt the EV platform.

lol and you’re such an “analyst’? The patent offer is FOUR YEAR OLD NEWS and is a sham. Anyone using a Tesla patent voids their right to sue any company for any patent/intellectual property claim in the future. It’s a hollow gesture gobbled up by “analysts” like yourself that swallow up propaganda on blogs like this written by people with no journalistic integrity or interest in analysis beyond hyping tesla.

” Anyone using a Tesla patent voids their right to sue any company for any patent/intellectual property claim in the future.”

Why do you think that? Of course I cannot use a Tesla patent and make my own Patent for that part using Tesla-patents. Besides that there is enough room for innovations, developments and of course patents.

The Tesla patent pledge lays this out, is why he thinks that. It defines “in good faith”, in part as not exercising a companies patent rights related to EVs against any third party.


“A party is “acting in good faith” for so long as such party and its related or affiliated companies have not:

“…or (ii) any patent right against a third party for its use of technologies relating to electric vehicles or related equipment;”

So basically don’t grab our patents only to use them to sue other startups.

Wow, so Brad is just parroting without understanding, imagine that.

No. That’s not how it reads. That’s part of it, sure. But it also about basically open sourcing your own EV patents.

No, no, and no.

That clause is EXCLUSIVELY to protect Tesla’s suppliers who are building parts on Tesla’s behalf.

Tesla does NOT get ANY right to use any other company’s IP, as

“no rights shall be deemed granted, waived or received by implication, exhaustion, estoppel or otherwise.”

Every single person trying to claim any clause of this implies rights to use other company’s IP always smack head first into this brick wall.


@Brad; your comment is an example of the thinking that undermines our collective future. Why not leave the zero-sum, dog-eat-dog thinking and get aboard with human survival?

Oh! and you’re free to demonstrate that with journalistic integrity if is really what you’r about.
But one single comment clearly don’t make it.
What do you thing?

Pls do come back and explain to us where is your head on this one. We are all listening …

And how is that a bad thing. I think you are suggesting that the company who uses Tesla patents should be able to sue Tesla. Tesla is just protecting themselves by including that provision.

Sure that part is fine. But you also have to agree not to go after anyone else, if they use your patents.

Well, Brad, I never claimed to be an analyst. But I know a HELLUVA LOT more about Tesla than just about any purported “analyst” I’ve ever heard blather on any/all of the finance media outlets like Seeking Alpha, Yahoo Finance, Forbes, WSJ, etc. So yeah, I’m pretty confident I could eviscerate any of those talking jack-asses who think that simply wearing a tie and possessing a Series 7 certificate somehow makes them understand the difference between, let’s say the Supercharging Network and CCS. You mention charging differences to just about anyone who doesn’t own an EV, yet feels compelled to speak on the topic, and cue the crickets. Along with anything else beyond the most basic click-bait knowledge of Tesla, which amounts to the usually the most that any of the “analysts” ever know about the company.

Lol back atcha.

Elon isn’t the only one frustrated by the Legacies. I think they’re playing a waiting game and trying to maximize their short-term profit while holding the disruption of EV tech at bay as long as possible. As I keep arguing on this site, I think this is a highly risky move, and at least some portion of the Legacies are going to pay a high price once this gambit plays out.

Agreed, Lou.

I’m not sure if Tesla has any patents that would be particularly valuable for competing EV manufacturers, but the list is so long that I have checked out only small part of the patents. Can anyone point out the true gems among the Tesla patents?

@Amperaguy said: “I’m not sure if Tesla has any patents that would be particularly valuable for competing EV manufacture… Can anyone point out the true gems among the Tesla patents?“

Electric vehicle thermal management system:

Battery mounting and cooling system:

And many more…

The first one seems a bit too trivial to be actually defensible. At least it would be easy to work around it with slightly different system.

The second one could be more valuable for anyone using small cylindrical cells, but there aren’t so many companies going down that road.

Good question. I know Tesla has a few patents for the internal arrangement of battery cells, but I don’t know if Panasonic is actually using those or not. And Sandy Munro raved at length about the innovations in the Model 3 motor, but I don’t know if those are protected by patents, or are merely held as trade secrets by Tesla.

Anyway, this “All our patent are belong to you” claim from Musk is mostly hype. If you read the fine print in the actual Terms of Service for Tesla’s “Patent Pledge”, you see that Tesla hasn’t granted its patents to the public domain. Rather, this is an offer for patent sharing with other companies which also agree to share their patents with anyone making the same pledge.


And shame on Evannex for perpetuating the myth.

@Pushmi-Pullyu said “… this [Tesla Patent Pledge] is an offer for patent sharing with other companies which also agree to share their patents with anyone making the same pledge…”

… seems fair.

If I was an EV start-up I’d absolutely take Tesla up on their patent offer. I’d also take Tesla’s offer to use the Tesla Supercharger network.

But they wouldn’t. Becuase you would have little to offer them in return.

There is no patent sharing, and it actually isn’t even up to Tesla as to whether any individual company can or cannot decide to use Tesla’s Patents under the terms of this pledge. In reality, every single company in the world could RIGHT NOW be using any or all of Tesla’s listed patents, and they don’t even have to even NOTIFY Tesla that they are using them!!!

There is no notification clause. There is no refusal clause.

Tesla can’t say they like one company and say they are eligible, and say no to another company. Every company is eligible under the legal requirements of the pledge, simply by unilaterally deciding they wish to begin to use the patents per the Pledge. What Tesla thinks about other companies (or the IP other companies own) is simply irrelevant under this open source offer.

This just goes to show how badly wrong you have read these terms.

Just stop with the patent “sharing” BS already. Every time you try to claim one part or another IMPLIES there is sharing, you completely ignore this part:

“no rights shall be deemed granted, waived or received by implication, exhaustion, estoppel or otherwise.”

Every single person trying to claim any clause of this implies rights to use other company’s IP always smack head first into this brick wall. Every time you claim the “fine print” implies patent sharing, you blindly ignore the fine print that EXPLICITLY STATES that none of the other fine print can be used to imply a transfer of rights.

As obliquely referenced in the article, Tesla’s true competitve advantages are unpatented trade secrets, which prevent other companies from discovering them. They share patents, which allow other car companes to make EVs in volume. But they’re not gong to give up their edge in battery assembly or compsition tech.

Thanks for that. I was wondering why so many are “struggling to catch up” despite these open patents.

They are not really open. There is a legal framework for making something free to license under open source. Patents are not it. Also, to use Tesla’s “open patents” a company has to agree to also openly share their EV related patents with Tesla and everyone else.

There simply is no express requirement for companies to grant IP rights to other companies in this pledge, no matter how many times you claim it is implied.

1) Tesla has very clearly communicated that they are offering their patents as open source. Open source is the legal OPPOSITE of an IP trade. These are legal terms with real meaning.
2) Tesla clearly states that you cannot read any part of the pledge to IMPLY that rights are granted. Such as Tesla being granted the rights to use the IP of other companies.
3) Tesla clearly states that the only way rights can be granted is if they are EXPRESSLY stated. For Tesla to gain the right to use the IP of other companies, it would have to EXPRESSLY state in the Pledge that the other companies EXPRESSLY must agree to grant Tesla the rights to use that IP.
4) Everyone who tries to claim that Tesla is granted rights to use other company’s IP under this Pledge, all rely upon the idea that there is an IMPLIED grant of rights for Tesla to use other company’s IP, where there is NO rights EXPRESSLY GRANTED. That simply cannot be read into this.

“Except as expressly stated in the Pledge, no rights shall be deemed granted, waived or received by implication, exhaustion, estoppel or otherwise.”

That means
1) IF you want to claim other companies grant rights to use their IP under this Pledge, you must provide the section that EXPRESSLY states that those rights are granted.
2) Any section that does not contain an express statement granting rights to use IP, CANNOT be read to IMPLY that the rights have been granted. So if you post a section of the pledge that you claim IMPLIES a granting of rights, or waiver or IP, your reading is automatically null and void.

Can you quote a section that EXPRESSLY states that companies are granting IP rights to others? No, you can’t.

If EV adoption is the real goal, how about making batteries and drive systems available, instead of just intangible patents?
Replicating the Giga Factory 10x and using the assembly factories of multiple companies would significantly reduce overall cost and increase adoption of EVs much faster.

Tesla is doing all it can to produce the amount they do now and couldn’t physically help anymore.
Your suggestion is akin to Tesla giving the LICE OEMs a fish to feed them today while Tesla is trying to teach them to fish to feed themselves forever.

Perhaps they need to franchise the factory model? 🙂

Being altruistic cannot be the primary goal of any for-profit company. The primary goal must be to make enough money to stay in business.

Yes, Elon and Tesla want to support the entire EV industry, with the goal of transitioning away from burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible. But if Tesla spent all its money supporting other companies it would soon go bankrupt, and who would that benefit? Well, it would benefit Big Oil and Tesla haters, that’s who. Certainly not you and me!

If this is really true, then Tesla’s top priority would be to make charging compatible. Bring out a CCS-Tesla adapter for all Tesla models and a CHAdeMO-Tesla Adapter for the Model 3. I’m betting within five years all new Teslas will have factory 350kW CCS support. It’s just a matter of time.

Can you imaging if Tesla block other car manufactures for using the skateboard battery design.
Porsche, Audi, and VW should thank Tesla.

I think the skateboard tech first appeared as a GM concept.

If Elon really wants to accelerate sustainable transport then Tesla needs to stop banning taxis from Supercharging.

Taxis can charge all they want at Superchargers, just not for free.

And maybe a lot of companies have used the patents already.
If they are going as far as tearing down Teslas, then they would absolutely take advantage of any free patents from Tesla.

That is true. There is absolutely no requirement for any company to publicly disclose that they are using these patents.

Heck, there isn’t even a requirement that they even inform Tesla that they are using Tesla’s patents. There simply is no way for anyone to know what companies may already be using any of Tesla’s listed patents.

A problem is that people keep talking about other cars as “Tesla killers” and it never happens. If anything, it brings more attention to Tesla when those other cars fail to live up to the hopes. It saves Tesla the need to advertise. And then when the other cars are reviewed, they are inevitably compared to Tesla, even if they don’t fit in the same category as anything that Tesla makes.

What’s needed is for every new EV to be reviewed and compared to ICE cars in the same class. Those are the competition, and those are the ones that the companies need to take buyers away from. Trying to convert potential Tesla buyers to their brand is a non starter. But getting people to buy a Buick EV instead of a Buick ICE would be far easier than getting people to buy one instead of a Tesla. Yet the Bolt is never compared to other GM vehicles, only to dissimilar EVs.

A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership in the world.
John Updike