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Why Is Tesla 'Giving Away' All of Its Patents?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Electric car company Tesla has made the bold (or perhaps foolhardy?) move of giving away all of its patents.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced Thursday that Tesla would not engage in patent litigation against anyone who "in good faith, wants to use our technology," reports Wired. The goal of this move is to accelerate the adoption of electric cars.

But will opening up Tesla's patents to the free market be the company's downfall?

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Tesla Vows to Share Electric Car Tech

In a somewhat cheeky announcement entitled "All Our Patent Are Belong To You" (for the uninitiated, see this meme explanation), Musk announced that the company would not be pursuing patent litigation against those who wish to spread electric-car technology. The company has also taken down the "wall of Tesla patents" from inside its Palo Alto, California, headquarters, as a symbolic display of its commitment to the open source movement.

Does this mean that Tesla has actually abandoned its patents or the rights associated with them? No farking way. Forbes called the move a swing for PR before a potential move to collaborate with BMW. Since the announcement has no legal affect on Tesla's ability to sue for infringement of its patents, its intended effect is likely for marketing purposes.

Tesla may publicly be in support of sharing its technology with others who share Musk's vision, but the company isn't laying off its patent attorneys just yet.

There Are Still Trolls to Fight

The key wording of the announcement is "good faith." There are dozens of companies known as patent trolls that exist solely to buy up technology patents and then sue for infringement. Large technology companies are guilty of patent-trolling behavior every now and then, and Tesla is still likely to be "trolled" for its tech in the near future.

Based on Tesla and Musk's philosophy of sharing electric car technology in order to make the electric vehicle more accepted in the market as a whole, patent trolls would likely not be among the "good faithful."

Tesla hopes to use this strategy to expand the market for electric cars while still distinguishing itself as a superior product. Too bad Musk's cars aren't run on confidence.

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