Elon Musk: Rivals Are Starting To Use Tesla’s Patents


Tesla Patent Wall - Old Look

Tesla Patent Wall – Old Look

It was only a matter of time, right?

Nearly 5 months ago, Tesla Motors made its patents open source.  Now, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tells USA Today that indeed some rivals have taken up Tesla on the patent-sharing offers.

Per USA Today:

“…at an event last week in Hawthorne, Calif., to unveil advances in Tesla’s Model S electric car, Musk told USA TODAY that some rivals are starting to use the patents.”

“We have had a number of inquiries from other car companies and we’ve told them to go ahead and use them,” Musk says.

Separately, USA Today reports that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO, Sergio Marchionne, made this statement to CNBC:

“I think he [Elon Musk] deserves more attention that we have given him.  In terms of the underlying business model and what he’s doing, it’s something we need to understand much better.”

Source: USA Today

Categories: Tesla

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57 Comments on "Elon Musk: Rivals Are Starting To Use Tesla’s Patents"

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Go Elon!

I wish he could elaborate. I’d like to know which patents were used and by whom.


Well, that is one major rival in vehicle electrification on board then.

Its about time they did something about their sunroofs.

I think Indian Mahindra was asking for permission to use.

Most of the Tesla patents relate to the management of batteries using 18650 cells, which no one so far except Tesla has been interested in trying to build, and in any case my understanding is that the story that Tesla has open sourced its patents is a PR gloss on what remains tight control, and that every use has to be approved by Tesla.

The hype and the substance can be two very different things.

No competent patent attorney would limit their claims to just 18650 cells.

And no, their statement can be construed as a unilateral contract such that approval from Tesla is required.

No doubt that they tried to make their claims as sweeping as possible.
That does not mean that they got away with it, or that many of them would have much applicability outside of sticking 18650 cells together.
Since others were building packs using prismatics and pouch cells way before Tesla came along, and still are, and Tesla have very little in the way of cell chemistry patents, it is hardly surprising if the companies which can seriously be regarded as ‘rivals’ to Tesla in electrification rather than those with nothing much on the road are showing no apparent interest in their patents.

Actually I think most of them would work outside of 18650 cells. Detecting things such as shorts can be applied to all circuits, not just a specific shape/voltage of battery. If you read the patents they are all very general, and not cell specific.

Only 40% are about batteries. What is the share of the 18650 among this?
Can you back these claims against Tesla with any source?

Of course he can’t.

Nope. The only breakdowns I can find are behind pay walls, short of sifting through the patents.

Most of the patents as shown above are in battery management, so it is possible that the techniques developed for 18650 batteries will work with others.


Here is why other manufacturers are largely ignoring Tesla’s offer, which is not actually to open source at all: ‘In plain English, here’s the deal that Tesla is offering to manufacturers and users of its electrical car technology: in exchange for using Tesla’s patents, the users of Tesla’s patents cannot file patent infringement lawsuits against Tesla if Tesla uses their other patents. In other words, this is a classic deal made between businesses all of the time — you can use my property and I can use your property, and we cannot sue each other. It’s a similar deal to that made between two neighbors who agree to permit each other to cross each other’s backyard. In the context of patented innovation, this agreement is more complicated, but it is in principle the same thing: if automobile manufacturer X decides to use Tesla’s patents, and Tesla begins infringing X’s patents on other technology, then X has agreed through its prior use of Tesla’s patents that it cannot sue Tesla. Thus, each party has licensed the other to make, use and sell their respective patented technologies; in patent law parlance, it’s a “cross license.” The only thing unique about this cross… Read more »

After reading what you quoted, I thought a reporter got an inside scoop on a contract that Tesla was offering another manufacturer.

I went to the link, and it turns out to be just just speculative nonsense from one journalist’s interpretation of the phrase “in good faith”.

In no way does that imply full cross-licensing. It means they can’t implement some variant of Tesla’s patent and use it against them or others.

On the contrary, what Tesla has done is clearly not open sourcing at all.

You are also mistaken in attributing the link I gave to a journalist.
It was a reporter from the LA Times who asked for clarification from Tesla, but the link I gave is to the George Mason University School of Law and their legal interpretation of the answers.

Presumably if they were incorrect the Tesla legal department would have contacted them to insist on a correction.

The notion that Tesla has open sourced their patents is PR flannel, uncritically swallowed.

Keep up the good work (read BS) Dave!

@Big Solar:
So you have nothing at all of any substance to post in reply to a clear legal opinion of what Tesla’s allegedly open patents really mean?

No Dave, I have absolutely nothing except my paranoia about your intentions as you have yours about Tesla.

DaveMart — your error is that you have a false concept of what “open source” means.

“Open source” absolutely does NOT mean “free for all”, nor has Tesla ever said that. “open source” has always included terms of use. Go to any open source software website and read the terms of use. All open source intellectual property includes specific terms and conditions for fair use that are unique to each piece of IP, and reciprocal clauses are common. Tesla’s open source IP does to.

You are falsely holding Tesla to a standard for their open source that simply doesn’t exist in the open source world. Your claims that Tesla has conditions in their open source license means it isn’t really open source flies in the face of the reality of decades of open source IP having lengthy terms and conditions agreements.

Now, I’ve corrected your error, and I’m not interested in your childish bickering style of back and forth nattering you do with Big Solar and others. We get it that you like H2 and like to take pot shots at Tesla at every chance possible. Enough already.

Dave, I appreciate other points of view, such as yours. Don’t stop!

But in order to placate the zealous ones here, please prefix your posts with a simple “In my opinion…” or “I think…”. The noise generated by the Prove It or Provide Legal Brief nonsense is distracting.

Nix bleated:
‘’ve corrected your error, and I’m not interested in your childish bickering style of back and forth nattering ‘

I spotted that bit so I can’t be bothered to read whatever else you are banging on about as I am not interested.

If you have a point to make do try to make it with some degree of civility, or you will simply be ignored.

the link you provided favors my point over yours Dave. Why do you insist on this type of negativity? Cant you just get decent job at walmart or something instead?

BS. The Times article made no inference of cross licensing.

All they reported was that Tesla doesn’t want people producing knockoffs, and that they don’t want others to sue Tesla. They said nothing about Tesla wanting full access to other manufacturers’ patents.

It’s fully clarified in this sentence:
Tesla will continue to seek patents for its new technology to prevent others from poaching its advancements and then filing their own patents as a “blocking maneuver.”

I don’t care if he’s a law professor. He’s also a being a click-baiting writer. He did not contact Tesla himself, and instead just assumed everything.

Why would Tesla be wasting time rebutting obscure blogs?

EV sector is stagnating, both in technical term to increase range and in commercial term for not being able to match prices of conventional cars. Yes, I agree with you, patents cannot always protect from anything, It is sufficient to be published and countless countries who do not respect patents will copy anything and everything. The good answer is that Tesla needs to flood the market at affordable level to every one, then it will have a head start and every one will drive electric unless they are petrol heads!!

The EV industry’s biggest problem now is bredth. The more entering the fray (market) – the more share spread among them. Chevy Volt sales down since Ford started selling two competing EREVs – the Energi models. Leaf sales are kind of growing but they’d grow more without various competitors. And in October 2014, the total plugin sales in the USA may not hit 10,000 – it hasn’t been that low since March, 2014 according to the Scorecard on this site. Gas prices surely are a headwind for the market. How many automakers really want to make a model that sells fewer than 8,000 units a year in the USA? There are no serious cost of scale benefits to that. Sure, plug-ins may be the future but not until the MSRP matches equivallent ICE vehicles. And the negative of range anxiety plays against BEVs (even Tesla). EREVs such as the Volt selling at $20K (getting very close now with incentives) versus a Chevy Cruze at $20K will still not outsell the Cruze if made in the same quantities.

Keep it simple sir. The reason why the other companies are ignoring Tesla’s technolgy and Supercharger network, is because ICE car makers do NOT want EVs to succeed.
Their profits is in fragile complex explosing engines.

They say f**K health and climat.

You have kind of a poor reply here. And myopic. Automakers sell autos. The issue overall may not be the makers but rather the profit possibilities of repair and parts at the dealerships which keep the big automakers going. If my Volt has gone through 2 oil changes in its life so far at 45,000 and the original set off tires, no brake wear and overall in the next year I intend to get one more oil change and maybe some tires, if needed, this is a big hurt to the big incomes generated from auto repairs. Even fewer repairs for BEVs (outside the various warranty issues Tesla is having with drivetrains and other fit and finish things they are tightening up). Automakers are businesses. To stay in business they need profits. Cost of scale does not yet allow EVs or EREVs to be profitable today. Some day, sure, and the first ones making a profit will be Nissan and Renault. Carlos Ghosn seems to have said recently that the Leaf is now operating as a profitable vehicle for Nissan.

ICE cars repairs, maintenance and early replacements, makes the car maker hating the less profitable EVs.

Thank you for completing my poor reply and my poor English.. 😉

The blog post you cited is heavily quoting a LA times article to get its interpretation of what “good faith” means. It also says it disagrees another article by a law professor, which has a different legal interpretation:
“to refrain from exercising their patent rights to the fullest extent of the law”

So it’s far from settled what “good faith” actually means legally and the actual impact relative to the existing patent situation. Tesla would have to specify what they mean, and I’m sure the companies inquiring were asking about the specifics.

Instead of speculating, everyone should go look at Tesla’s patents themselves. It’s easier than you think. Here is what you should do: 1. Go to this link which brings up all issued Tesla patents: https://www.google.com/?tbm=pts&gws_rd=ssl#q=inassignee:%22tesla+motors%22&safe=off&tbm=pts&tbs=ptst:u 2. Click on a patent and look at the section called “claims”. These are the sentences that literally define what the patent protects. The broadest claims are the “independent” claims (they don’t reference any other claims). Claim 1 is almost always independent. 3. Read the independent claims. A competitor infringes a claim only if it practices at least each and every element recited in a claim. So, if a claim recites component A + B + C, but a competitor only uses A + B or A + B + D, they don’t infringe. But if they use A + B + C + D, they do infringe. In this respect, the longer and more words in the claim, the narrower its protection and the easier it is to circumvent. Just glancing through several dozen of their patents, it seems that some of them are for technology they are not using, such as metal-air batteries, and the rest are fairly narrowly tailored to their battery… Read more »

First thing to learn for Sergio Marchionne:
Don’t tell your customers not to buy your car.

Fiat 500E is great, mass produce it! Give it a 35 kW battery and a quick charger for generation two, and you have a winner.

if he really is losing ten thousand dollars on each Fiat 500E sold, I can see why he would discourage people from buying them. On the other hand Nissan is making a profit on the leaf so maybe Chrysler/Fiat should look at Nissan’s business model

The drive for European companies to electrify comes from European emission requirements.

Fiat produces almost all very small fuel economic cars, and so can meet them without electrification, in contrast to just about everyone else but especially the luxury car makers Mercedes, Audi and BMW.

So Fiat has neither the money nor the incentive to electrify its line up.

Hence if is interested in Tesla’s patents, as they have little expertise of their own to be taken in the cross licensing agreements which is what Tesla is really doing, and the total lack of interest from those who are seriously electrifying and putting billions of their own money into R & D.

Still FIAT needs to lower their average by 28% in five years. So even they will have to do more than just rely on small and light cars.

We will see plenty of plug-ins fron FIAT and probably for almost every model.

Thanks for the update.
I am not sure where they will get the money from to hit target then, as with the Italian economy still dire I would imagine that they have not got much cash, although I have not checked into them for a long time.

Fiat should squeeze in:

They build a lot of NG cars, which help emissions.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Is he losing $$ because of R&D, tooling, etc. sunk costs? Or because their electric system is an off-the-shelf job from an expensive supplier?

This is good news especially for supercharging capability on other cars. Much needed.

Do you actually know that the Leaf and nearly all EVs are charging faster than the Tesla Model S???

The Leaf charges at maximum 50 kW => 2C the Model S maxes out at 135 kW => 1.6C. So it’s clear to see that other companies are charging faster. That means a Leaf charges 25% faster (if they had the same battery size).

The Soul is even allowed to charge 100 kW with a bruto battery around 31kWh. So the Soul is already at 3C!! The Soul with a 85kWh Battery would nearly be twice as fast as the Model S!

Yeah, a theoretical 85 kWh Leaf or Soul is capable of charging 25% faster than a Tesla.

But it doesn’t exist, and even if it was built, CHAdeMO is not capable of charging 25% faster than a supercharger.

FYI, the Kia is 80% in 25 min, not actually 100 kW:

The Tesla can charge an 85kwh pack from 0 to 80% in 30 minutes. The leaf takes 30 minutes to take a 24th pack from 0 to 80%. So how do you figure that the Nissan Leaf charges faster than a Tesla?

The Tesla doesn’t charge from 0-80% in 30 minutes. It takes 45 minutes in reality.

This is exactly what Elon was hoping for… Excellent.

We should be picking on the one or two bad things about Tesla and the one or two good things about Fuel Cells, oh wait, there aren’t any. Nevermind.


Actually, Big, the good thing with the Fuel Cells, are – when they are used as a range extender – like the Volt uses a Gas Engine, but – in a vehicle with a larger base range – the Fuel Cell Package can also be smaller. Let’s say – that since the fuel cell provides waste Heat – that means the batteries don’t need to provide energy for that heat, where heat is required. A Vehicle with a 100 mile range in BEV mode, and 100 mile Range in FCV Mode, means that for most trips under 100 miles between charges – your are a BEV, and where Charging Stations are Plentiful, opportunity charging on the fly can be fit in, but – where such facilities are a bit thin – a Fuel cell booster with 100 miles range – could help you make it to the next Charging station. More Critically – is the ability of such a mixed system to be able to operate both in concert, and independent of each other – as in – Low Battery – Fuel cell carries you, Low Hydrogen – use your battery in BEV Mode (and plan accordingly) until you can… Read more »

I would agree with all of this but infrastructure is a bitch and gas infrastructure is already in place. Instead of wasting billions on hydrogen infrastructure we could more easily and much faster move towards electrification with gas PHEVs and EREVs and straight BEVs while adding renewables and and more efficient appliances, LED bulbs etc..etc…

100% agree. The main problem with FCVs is that the infrastructure will cost taxpayers many $ Billions. They have the government behind them and the oil companies are not about to foot this bill themselves. We will pay through the nose whether we like it or not.

Here in the UK the money provided for both hydrogen and battery charging stations is about the same.

So unless you don’t advocate away from home charging it would seem your criticism is not even handed.

What Mr. Musk is trying to accomplish long term, is to obliterate the ICE car manufacturers. To do this, you have to manufacture electric cars on the same scale as does Detroit. This won’t happen over night. But happen it will! Sharing patents is another road leading to the same objective.

ROTFLMAO. In answer to the question of whether anyone was using the patents, Musk said there were inquiries. When asked a second time since this answer was unresponsive (look, a bird), he said “I think it is [happening]”.

He doesn’t know? But he knows there have been inquiries? Obviously “Think it is happening” is sales speak for “No, we don’t know of anyone who is using them but we’ve have some leads and surely they will work out”.

There is no way for Elon to know for sure if any other manufacturer will use Tesla patents in their products. Elon answwred as honestly as possible.

Our first mistake is assuming that every Tesla idea has been patented. Opening up patents was a PR move. Tesla still has plenty of good ideas, and they will stay Tesla’s ideas.

I would be upset if I saw Falcon Wing Doors on an ICE vehicle… 🙁

I wouldn’t, they almost seem counter productive at this point. I know they seem cool but they have been a hold up for X.

Well, apparently there is some kind of quid pro quo in this deal.

But then, I’m sure the other companies’ legal departments are fully scrutinizing the ‘Free Deal’ to see what intellectual property THEY have to release to Tesla, and Im sure they can negotiate a fair price for that. Or if not, they always have the option to walk away…

Not a big deal for me to lose any sleep over.

Awesome! More completely unfounded claims! Super!