Tesla said that the move to open up its patent portfolio was designed to help promote new innovations in the electric car industry. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said that he did not believe the move would weaken Tesla's position as a technology leader but instead strengthen it.
"Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport," Musk said in a company blog. "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 said that the company had originally obtained patents in an effort protect larger, traditional car manufacturers from copying their technology. However, he said that Tesla decided to open them up for use to encourage the development of vehicles with low carbon emissions in greater volume than they are currently produced.
"Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately two billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis," Musk said. "By the same token, it means the market is enormous."
"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. We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform," he said.