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Tesla opens all its patents to speed up innovation

Over recent years companies are opening up their innovation processes to third parties as cooperation can lead to better results than developing proposals just from within the company. This trend is called Open Innovation.

Applying this trend on standardization of technologies would lead to Open Standards; Open Standards are a good way of achieving interoperability between products and services which creates scale-effects and bigger markets. And the success of the Internet, based on standards set by stakeholders in collaborative and transparent processes is a clear example.

Tesla, World’s most famous electric car producer, has gone a step further, opening up all of its patents to speed up innovation for the advancement of electric vehicle technology and to increase the overall market for electric vehicles.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has changed his view over patents along his venture in Tesla. Even though he first considered them good and worked hard to get patents, he now considers that patents serve merely to stifle progress, while enriching lawyers rather than their actual inventors.

Tesla CEO numbers are straightforward: seven years after Tesla introduced his first electric car, electric cars still make up less than 1% of US sales. Considering that annual new vehicle production is almost 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, Tesla will not be able to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. And that’s why Telsa has opened up their already issued 203 patents and another 280 still pending patent applications covering batteries and other key features that distinguish its electric cars from petrol-powered vehicles.

Quoting the CEO of file-storing company Box Inc., it’s better to be the best product in a large industry than the only product in a niche one.

It is hard to foresee if this will impact the Internet ecosystem, as better batteries for mobile devices might come out to the market based on Tesla’s solutions or on its Open Source evolution, but certainly is a great example for others to follow, and is fully aligned with our Cooperate for speeding up innovation approach within our Digital Manifesto.