Tesla gives their competitors the middle finger… and their patents

Today Elon Musk and electric-car manufacturer Tesla Motors announced that they will allow anyone to use their patented technology in “good faith” without risking patent infringement litigation.  I love this move for several reasons beyond the obvious fact that it makes me happy it when big companies cause big disruptions by discarding dumb rules.

  • Musk understands there is more value in pushing an entire industry forward rather than trying to hold an entire industry back.  This is true innovative maturity that even some of the oldest businesses don’t understand yet.
  • Many (including me) feel that our patent laws need a complete overhaul.  Few are willing or able to put such weight behind their position.
  • They made a big statement that will generate a tremendous amount of goodwill press, but they didn’t really give up that much (as Musk says, “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”)

The thing I love most though is that Tesla is loudly proclaiming their ability to innovate faster than everyone else.    If they give away their advantage and remain stagnant, they lose quickly.  They don’t think they can innovate faster.  They know they will innovate faster  and they are going ‘all in’.  It’s bold and beneath the surface it’s a subtle middle finger to everyone trying to catch up – a middle finger that will generate endless praise, including mine.