Did Tesla CEO Elon Musk Just End the Era of Big Oil?


Electric-car maker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) has come a long way, and now it’s extending a helping hand out to would-be competitors in an unprecedented and very surprising move. CEO Elon Musk announced in an aptly-named blog post that Tesla is opening up all of the company’s patents, effectively making the technology powering their vehicles open source. In stark contrast to what has been happening between other tech companies, namely Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung, Musk says Tesla will not engage in patent lawsuits, and instead, is happy to share its technology with anyone who wants to use it.

“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,” he said.

There are big companies out there that use open-source platforms to build their products, including Mozilla and Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT), both operating in the software industry. Making the technology to build a sophisticated high-performance luxury vehicle available to everyone, on the other hand, is a brand new development in the business world.

There could be a multitude of reasons behind Tesla’s logic, but it’s still very surprising to see a business just dump its intellectual property on the public. Think back to Tesla’s original goal overall, though, which was taking electric cars to the mainstream. The best way to do that, even if it comes at the expense of future revenue, is to get others on board with the idea, and get other companies producing EVs. Musk isn’t naive, and most likely understands that his company’s technology will get out one way or another, so he has made the call to open the gates on his own.