Elon Musk Just Gave Away All Tesla's Patents, Meaning Electric Cars Are A-Coming

The maker of the first totally electric sports car basically gave away the key to its technology for free last week. Tesla CEO Elon Musk opened up the company's patents for fair use in a blog post by promising the company would not pursue litigation against competitors who decided to copy some of its technology. Musk says he decided to release the patents as part of an effort to make electric cars more ubiquitous. That could mean you'll soon be seeing more Tesla cars — and imitators! — on the roads.

In the blog post, Musk wrote:

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. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

If the change makes more and better electric cars come on the market sooner, it sounds like it will be a benefit to everyone.

By opening up the patents, often viewed as a company's most precious intellectual property, Musk has embraced a real-world version of the open-source movement, an Internet-based phenomenon encouraging the open release of software so other developers can build on it. It's a more collaborative way of doing business. It carries some risks. But Musk apparently decided it was riskier for Tesla to go the electric car route alone.

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Which is another way of saying Musk didn't do this just to be a good, go-green, hooray kind of guy. He's basically saying he needs better competition, at least to hear some commentators tell it. Re/Code reports that the agreement Tesla sets out does leave room for some litigation if, say, other companies try to sue them or collect money over intellectual property.

Now we'll just have to see whether Google feels like opening up its self-driving car technology, and we'll be all set.