Don’t Be Fooled by His Patent Purge: Elon Musk is Just Another Hypocritical Tech Billionaire
In 2014, Elon Musk made Tesla’s patents available for anyone to use for free, stating that “technology leadership is not defined by patents.” Earlier this month, Musk announced again that he had released all of Tesla’s patents, promising the company “will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.” Musk believes patents only serve “to stifle progress” and that by releasing his patents he can help get progress moving again—and that progress will somehow win the fight against climate change. But do patents stifle progress, and will releasing patents really have this result? Patents are a trade with a government. The inventor agrees to disclose the invention to the public in exchange for a limited exclusive right to the invention. No one else can make, use, sell or import the invention without the inventor’s permission. The public interest is served because the invention is publicly disclosed, so anyone can improve the invention and patent that advancement. And anyone can design around it and patent that invention. If the invention has commercial value, no doubt many people will jump in and do one or both.