In 2014, Elon Musk announced that he was “open-sourcing” Tesla’s patents. He argued that doing so would allow the electric vehicle market to grow more rapidly. While Musk’s original announcement was short on details, the company has since provided additional information regarding the use of Tesla’s patents in its Patent Pledge. Echoing language from Musk’s announcement, the Patent Pledge states that Tesla “will not initiate a lawsuit against any party for infringing a Tesla Patent through activity relating to electric vehicles or related equipment for so long as such party is acting in good faith.”
The Patent Pledge provides a potential path for companies to use the technology covered by Tesla’s patent portfolio. Tesla is the assignee of over 350 U.S. utility and design patents covering a broad range of technology, from thermal management systems to door handles. However, companies considering whether to use Tesla’s patented technology should carefully review several key restrictions found in the Pledge.