If you did a topic analysis on AVC over the past 10+ years that I’ve been blogging, I suspect patent reform would rate highly. I’ve been advocating for eliminating software patents and cutting back patent protection broadly as loudly and frequently as I can. I believe that sharing intellectual property will lead to way more innovation than hoarding and protecting it. I’ve seen a huge amount of pain and agony inflicted on innovative companies by trolls and “inventors” who never did anything other than write their ideas down on paper. Having ideas is not innovation. Making something new and different and putting it into the market is innovation.
So it was with incredible joy that I read these words by Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and possibly the most innovative entrepreneur in the world right now.
Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
Elon’s post is a short and powerful statement in favor of the idea that innovation comes from a movement and that innovative companies should lead those movements by sharing their intellectual property, not hoarding it.
What is most significant to me is that this is not coming from a software company. It has become generally recognized that software companies are harmed not helped by patent laws. But this is coming from an automobile company. The most innovative automobile company in the world right now. For such a company to say to the world “come compete with me and you can use my intellectual property to do so” is a huge deal. I hope everyone who has a hand in the patent system thinks long and hard about this. We may have reached a turning point in the conversation about patents and intellectual property. At least I sure hope so. Thank you Elon.