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Good News: Tesla Motors Freely Gives Away Patents to Public (July/August 2014)

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Ethics Matters

July/August 2014

This past month, one of the world’s most prestigious electric car manufacturers, Tesla, released all of its patents to the public for free.

CEO and founder Elon Musk wrote in a release on the company’s website that the decision to release the patents was based off of a conviction that everyone would benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” Musk said. “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.”

He went on to pledge to not pursue patent lawsuits toward anyone who uses Tesla’s technology in good faith.

Patent law, which was initially created to protect and incentivize innovation, has been criticized much lately and accused to doing more to inhibit invention than cultivate it.

“Maybe [patents] were good long ago,” Musk commented, “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.”

Tesla’s decision is a great example of a company that’s driven by principles over profits. Whereas they may have been able to maintain an exclusive market share, or generate millions of dollars of income from licensing their technology, they instead chose to act in the best interest of the public and in accordance with their founding values. In doing so, they created a lot of good will from the public.

> Read Full July/August 2014 Ethics Matters