A Big Win For The Patent Reform Movement

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.

#patents

Comments (Archived):

  1. G

    On the same subject, Ars Technica reported recently on a study on the effect of patent trolls:http://arstechnica.com/tech

    1. William Mougayar

      “Heavy patent litigation scared off about $22 billion in VC funding over 5 years.” Wow.

      1. Emily Merkle

        well. can we have a citation? Do you blame them? Well – Fred – would you feel like wading into a patent lawsuit en route to vesting? No. It makes no sense. B/c ayon who does a modicum of due diligence would see the semi-dup org/idea and the defending company, figure out they are too similar & if you invest n one the other will get funded, and – you’ve lost some impact. Move on. Plus patents are dumb.

      2. Emily Merkle

        You did read that, right? Total Bollox. Designed to support title, actually all conflicting information; information refuting title. Did not note source. Reject it tho.

    2. Emily Merkle

      heh. excellently fabricated piece of shite.

  2. stevanpopo

    Huge respect to Elon for making such a bold step. Do you think this can have a meaningful knock on effect in other sectors?

    1. fredwilson

      yes i do. certainly the auto sector. maybe others

      1. HistoryInAction

        Though the context of “own a car? why?” in a ridesharing-dominant world might make Tesla a more complicated bet.re: http://www.nytimes.com/2014

        1. stevanpopo

          Definitely a long term case for that but depending on how frequently you use your car I think transport-on-demand is still some way of being completely price competitive. I agree that the concept/importance of ownership is definitely diminishing though

          1. Emily Merkle

            hassle. maintenance.

        2. Emily Merkle

          like Zipcar? rocks, but only major-metro applicable. I guess if you can afford a Tesla you can afford parking but where do you open up? BQE?

      2. Niv Dror

        I suspect that the large automakers will still see it as too big of a risk and/or interpret “use it with good intention” as being at the mercy (judgement) of Tesla, who will have the opportunity to sue. Not that it’s true… But the bug automakers will interpret it that way. Hopefully I am wrong.That said, this WILL inspire a host of new innovative mini-Tesla’s to come about, and finally move the auto industry into the future. It will not come from the incumbents.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Let’s say Ford wanted to use one of Tesla’s patents…it would be a fairly simple legal document to memorialize Elon’s blog post into a legally binding no fee license agreement. No?

  3. awaldstein

    Can’t help but applaud a calculated bold move with a lot of guts behind it.Bravo!

  4. William Mougayar

    I like this line from his post, about patents. [They] “… enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors.”It would be great to see Nest, Google or Apple follow suit.

    1. awaldstein

      Business case for this to even every enter a board room decision at Google or Apple?How about a bet?1st class flight and dinner in Toronto for me, in NY for you if 12 months from today this is in any way a rational argument to make ;)My point is that this will not change because it is the right thing it will change because it is the smart business thing. Don’t see it for most incumbents in their current models.

      1. JamesHRH

        you wil be waiting a while for William to take you up on that one.

      2. William Mougayar

        Good point about smart vs. right. But from the thousands of patents they own, I would hope that opening some of them would be beneficial to the industry and spur more innovation.

        1. awaldstein

          One of my sales people said to me the other day “I hope “X” will close next week”.My response predictably was –I don’t do hope as a strategy, go make luck happen!With incumbents if it ain’t a business case its wishful thinking. And honestly it will need to be an aggressive not a defensive strategy to make it happen.

          1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            “I don’t do Hope as a Strategy” – Ooh am I ever going to plagiarise that !

          2. pointsnfigures

            I know someone that used it. Didn’t work.

          3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            So it appears “Not doing hope as a strategy” really is a strategy without hope πŸ˜‰

          4. Emily Merkle

            actually, sometimes ya gotta hope. and that is all that is plausible. you have a fraudulent shop that is dragging your sector down? you’re not “competing” with them – you don’t want their biz – but they rub off and make you look bad. so you hope there is a Russian botnet sting that will in effect amount to nothing but at least it shook the customers up – which is what maters. who are now getting a clue and willing to pay for quality. (so that’s 1 hope)

        2. Emily Merkle

          patents do not divulge game plans. they simply remove barriers to entry.

          1. William Mougayar

            exactly.

        3. Emily Merkle

          Smart & right can be aligned.

      3. Emily Merkle

        You are right. Unfortunately. it will take the trailblazers to set the example. And the slowly bloating behemoths will weaken, and be slower to adapt,slower to innovate. Apple at least makes stuff. Quality, sexy, reliable stuff. GOOG’s revenue base can nearly be viewed as ephemeral. Or at least subject to the winds of change.

  5. HistoryInAction

    I like the connection to the patent reform movement. Congress failed, and this correlates strongly (any causation implied?) to Elon’s move.Though in his case, it’s also a savvy business move to grow the market, which in turn will help Tesla be a bigger fish, rather than being the only (?) fish in a much smaller pond.

  6. Guest

    One small step for patent reform, one GIANT leap for accelerating the advent of ⚑️Cars. Elon is an inspiration to inspirers.

  7. Niv Dror

    One small step for patent reform, one GIANT leap for accelerating the advent of electric cars. Elon is an inspiration to inspirers. This was less about the patent, and more about the ⚑️Car.

    1. Emily Merkle

      Less about the car. MORE about the coop grid.

  8. Niv Dror

    From a 2013 Tesla Q&A in Norway, which I wrote an in-depth post on, this is how Elon responded to an audience member that asked about competition from the big car companies copying Tesla:”We really hope that the big car companies do copy Tesla. When you consider what is the fundamental good that Tesla will achieve from a global societal standpoint, the biggest positive impact that we will have is by getting the rest of the car industry to move towards sustainable transport faster. I think that’s really important. So copying Tesla is nothing to be concerned about, I wish they would do it faster, and I don’t know why they are taking so long.”The post: http://www.datafox.co/blog/

  9. pointsnfigures

    One of the most subsidized too! For them this is a business decision. They are so far ahead of everyone else they run the risk of being a niche product. Tesla telling everyone to catch up-and they will compete by out executing everyone else.

    1. JamesHRH

      Couldn’t agree more. Musk’s move isn’t cynical, but it is well thought out.If a big 3 car company uses his patents to create a competing product, it validates Tesla more than it harms Tesla.Nobody ever said this guy was stupid.

      1. Brandon G. Donnelly

        Yup. Thinking in particular about the charging stations. If they become widely implemented as a standard, Tesla wins.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      They also are in the battery business now, and will be basically producing the world’s battery supply for electric vehicles. They need customers. I am sure they could fulfill the demand on their own eventually, though it will be slower – and as a global society we need to change rapidly to sustainability. I’d be better if every vehicle on the road was an electric within 10 years — that will be impossible for Tesla to ramp up to that productive unless someone injects tens of billions into them – and by nature of the markets and business, it generally looks like there needs to be money pumped into competition, competition that will fail in the end – but who play an important role in 1) giving options (for the ability to compare to Tesla’s offerings, in their mind hopefully as better), and 2) for increasing the marketing and mindshare of electric vehicles.

    3. ShanaC

      In other words – they’re super smart all around.I want a telsa, but I can’t afford one (plus I can’t drive)I would say a telsa + self driving care – my perfect car- and I think they know it will happen, but not unless they open up patents

  10. Emily Merkle

    On a similar note, the bane of the industry I have worked in for 14 years is the non-compete. The value in my industry is in the people, and it is derigueur – mandatory for employment – to sign an agreement that encumbers you for at least one year; that is – whether you are fired or leave at will, you are prohibited legally from working for any competitors/companies deemed to be competitors. Real-life case: my husband and I started a company with a partner in Poland. We wre quite successful early on, and a few major players shifted budgets from a competitor to our shop. The competitor (small world) was not happy, and filed a nuisance suit against my husband – a non-compete that had no merit. However, a technicality in discovery with our partner required a settlement, and as a condition, the 1-year sideline was legally put into effect for us. Just wrong.The movement to banish non-competes needs an Elon Musk.

    1. awaldstein

      This is a loaded gun.I don’t sign NDAs as an advisor or an invesrtor. Been 5 maybe more years since I stopped signing them. This is brokering trust.Are you saying though that you don’t believe that employers should require any protection against employees recruiting their employees, their customers, copying their packaging, their formulas, their slogans–?That’s an extreme but cuts to the heart of this. It’s not all black and white.

      1. Salt Shaker

        Arnold, do you walk if a client insists that you sign an NDA? I personally have no prob signing and I don’t view such a request as signaling a lack of trust, particularly when trust is gen earned over time.I presume you have a written agreement w/ your clients outlining conditions and terms of compensation, for your protection as well as theirs. I view an NDA in the same light, it’s standard/accepted biz protocol, and in many respects I welcome it. Maybe it’s my cynical side showing, but if not asked to sign an NDA it would make me pause a bit about the person’s gen biz skills and legal knowledge, more than an acknowledgement of their righteous character.

        1. awaldstein

          The real issue though is that they don’t work.80+ % of everything we hear is the same. There are unique strategies, smart execution and the like.Work with people you trust. Understand that you are trusting on their judgement.That’s the gist of it.

          1. Salt Shaker

            Don’t disagree, but at some level NDA’s do operate as a deterrent, although perhaps only a shade better than the turnstiles in the subway.Thought your insightful comment that “80+ % of everything we hear is the same” frankly speaks to a much bigger prob πŸ™‚

          2. Emily Merkle

            Well. Who is we bad who are you sourcing? It’s a big issue in VC. Somehow got looped into a chat about women in VC and – that too – is something to be addressed (moreso than “guys” πŸ˜‰ – venturing beyond comfort zones is always a good start.

          3. Emily Merkle

            …but if you only work with people you “trust” – you develop an insular environment, with no fresh blood and new perspectives.

        2. Emily Merkle

          right. and just because you sign an NDA doesn’t mean you are entitled to open kimono. (aside – netlingo defines “open kimono as “revealing your business plan after signing an NDA”) – that is silly. You disclose what is necessary to explore a relationship. And not what is super mission critical secret sauce.

        3. LE

          Signing an NDA doesn’t make anything happen it still means that the company needs to decide to take legal action (expensive) and is able to prove their case. And that you have actually done something or they have reason to believe that you have. My guess is that that is not a very common occurrence in the real world.Probabilities are probably pretty low.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Indeed, unless it’s blatant and unless you’re a very large company with deep pockets – it won’t be worth it.

          2. Emily Merkle

            Not at all. An opportunity is an opportunity. You open the convo to 1, 5, 50…If the desired intimacy/vetting is key enough, you cannot have too many honest, honourable discussions.

          3. Emily Merkle

            risk/reward. if you tilt risk, get NDA but reveal less. if you are secure, ad upside is greater, tilt reward, possibly reveal more/sensitive/etc.there is no set answer. it is business sense.

      2. Anne Libby

        A decent workplace, fair treatment, goes a long way in “protecting” against having your employees recruited away.In the meantime, prohibiting someone from working in their field for a year creates a real problem for someone’s ability to make a living. The impact on a career of being off the market for a year — as people who stepped out to take care of kids, parents, illness, can attest — can be devastating.

        1. awaldstein

          This is simply all in the grey area as you know.I don’t have a pat answer cause there isn’t one.And I’m torn–and this relates to @stuartkmarvin:disqus comments below as I personally for the type of work I do, don’t get asked often and don’t sign NDAs. I wear my reputation on my sleeve so to speak.But I know with some business, especially in the hard goods world, food as a case in point, where turnover is great, labor costs are low and you train everyone at a high level, this is a real concern.Tough one and worth the discussion. That is why i broached it.

          1. Anne Libby

            I wonder if Danny Meyer has people sign an NDA? (and edit: I meant non-compete.)After reading *Setting the Table,* and seeing the philosophy behind every experience I’ve had at Union Square Cafe his other restaurants, I recently met a student interning in his consulting organization, an insider who felt that his organization walks the talk.The book, for those who haven’t read it, is part memoir, part description of the philosophy behind his food service organization.Training is a sunk cost. Disgruntled, handcuffed employees won’t be doing the work you need them to do. And then there’s the friction on recruiting…

          2. awaldstein

            A huge fan of Danny Meyer and that book.Quite the genius actually.The issue (one of them in hospitality biz) is that recipes and service methodology aren’t ‘code’ and it is exacerbated that it takes an army of low wage, transient and talented individuals to create a hugely value, high class consistent product.Yup–always the answer is to create a decent workplace. Tough and the lower wage the workforce the harder this is actually.

          3. Anne Libby

            I hear you.Costco comes to mind, over the years I’ve watched them (no inside view, other than the fact that I have, indeed, been inside a Costco) competing for low wage workers. Some believe that their employee retention (and and higher than average wages) creates a higher return to shareholders and a competitive advantage.(And oops, edited the above, I meant non-compete, in reference to Danny.)

          4. Emily Merkle

            Non-competes do not foster a positive employee esprit; they trap professionals; keep them at the mercy of c-level to typically do as they please with their compensation, equity (or lack thereof) – and the poor lads cannot leave because they – can’t. It fosters a kind of Stockholm’s Syndrome. I know two guys right this minute, 2 devs, just stuck and miserable.

          5. Jim Canto

            A-freak’n-men! >> “Disgruntled, handcuffed employees won’t be doing the work you need them to do.”

          6. Emily Merkle

            It’s typically Dev – which they cannot train – so they shackle them to their keyboards and I swear, these two guts have practically developed Stockholm Syndrome. We are trying to open a window..

          7. ShanaC

            many people don’t want to deal with the sunk cost aspect of training – and they consider training high risk. I don’t get it

          8. Anne Libby

            Sloppy thinking. The desire to get something for nothing.The thought — really actually quite funny, given the way that we think about how business should work — that someone else should build it for you. (Where the “it” is your workers’ knowledge base.)

          9. Emily Merkle

            I am talking about non-competes – not NDAs. See above string. And on NDAs – I see them as a sign of respect for another’s intellectual capital. If you are a honourable business man – which I know you to be, as am I – it is honourable to sign NDAs – of course post-review. And vice-versa. NDAs – in my world – allow the conversation to open up much wider than without. If I do not trust or have an inkling that a player may be shady – I will not exchange NDAs. Just common sense. But – see about – non-compete – totally different game.

        2. Emily Merkle

          yes. huge. I had to literally sit in my loft for a solid year. spend all the money we made from the dissolved company. and then start. all. over. all for a petty fraud peddling guy who could not play at the right level. not cool.

          1. Anne Libby

            Ugh. So sorry.

          2. Emily Merkle

            Thanks πŸ™‚ risk you take as an entrepreneur. can’t win ’em all…

        3. LE

          prohibiting someone from working in their field for a year creates a real problemNobody is forced to sign a non compete a non compete comes as a condition of the employment negotiation or just deciding to work for some company. Which you don’t have to do if you don’t want. Unless you are talking about a situation where you are hired and then presented with the nc on your first day in which case you have a leg to stand on.So if you come to me and want me to sign a non compete I have a choice of either agreeing to sign the non compete or finding another job, right?I’ve had cases of people that I’ve been with that have signed non competes and have had to find a job and the non compete has impacted them. But they did agree to it (it wasn’t slipped in at the last minute or anything) and you have to expect when you are dealing with someone that they will be somewhat careful in approaching a new job (as opposed to just click signing or not reading fine print).

          1. Anne Libby

            I agree, nobody is forced to sign. Not signing is the cleanest way to avoid issues. Employers only have to wonder if they’re missing good people who won’t sign.And yet, some signed contracts are renegotiated. (And in some states, some terms called for in these agreements aren’t legal and/or enforceable. That is, as I understand it — #notalawyer.)As @awaldstein:disqus said elsewhere, there’s some grey.(And on an unrelated, related matter — I couldn’t believe what I was being asked to checkbox “sign” at a new dermatologist the other day.Essentially, it looked like “can I sell your info about your health carestatus to people who might want to sell you stuff.” So, indeed, read the fine print.)

          2. LE

            When I was in the ophthalmologist some time ago they wanted to take a copy of my drivers license. I said “why do you need this” they said “so we can verify that it is you” (forget that I’ve been going to the same practice since being a kid).Then they said (and I love this shit) “and that way we don’t have to ask to see your drivers license each time!”. Lazy is not the way to get me to do what you want.So forgetting that the point is to see that it’s me I told the doc that it’s a risk to store everyone’s drivers license on their computer (a tasty target for sure) and iirc he thanked me. My guess is that he didn’t do anything because doctors tend to be usually clueless and let the “office girls” handle things for them.Here’s a good story for you re: drivers license.Years ago I did a pro bono and helped a super famous well know fully clued in multiple best selling author get back his domain name which someone else had. At the end I told him by email “oh I also need a copy of your drivers license for my records”. I didn’t need the drivers license of course it was just one of my experiments to see if he complied. Sort of like a game. Anyway he promptly complied, without any questions at all, and I have a copy of his license complete with all the numbers (at the very least he should have redacted those). The only thing that is really surprising is who he was given that he did this. He didn’t know me either at all I was pretty much a stranger to him.

          3. Anne Libby

            My recent medical journey (due to a broken wrist) is really the first extended engagement I’ve had with the medical care establishment in my adult life. My sense of disbelief has been tested over and over again.(At the hospital where I go to PT they always ask to see an ID. They don’t check it against the name I signed in with, or with a photo database like security at a large corporation might. They just want to see it. I rarely have it with me, and they always let me in anyways.)

          4. Emily Merkle

            you know, you do someone a solid – prolly especialy a celeb, who feels exploited all the time – they melt a little inside, let the shield down. That is nice.so…passport?

          5. Emily Merkle

            If you work in an industry and that is what you do – you can not just go “et another job – because they all have non-competes. Well, some people can. i have. But many are very specialized. It is not a matter of being intellectually lazy. It is cost/benefit and the sales tip into the negatives for employees, the same employees the companies are trying to keep because they value them. Until they decide not to.

        4. ShanaC

          why are they legal in the first place?

          1. Anne Libby

            I don’t know.Though it’s not legal in California (for employees); @fredwilson:disqus referenced Massachusetts elsewhere in comments — I’m not sure what the status is there.

      3. Emily Merkle

        No. Non-competes simply encumber an employee – not a contractor/investor/advisor – from working for any entity they deem a competitor for at least a year post-separation (for any reason).

      4. JLM

        .I love signing NDAs.I also give my word of honor which is more powerful than any piece of paper.JLM.

        1. awaldstein

          Each to their own my friend ;)I don’t cause most of what i hear that is deemed confidential is the same that is deemed confidential at everyone’s company.My word and judgement–like your own–is what is really the key to us as advisors. And people.

        2. LE

          word of honorWord of honor doesn’t bind your estate though.

          1. Emily Merkle

            cost of doing business. pick your battles, as it were. high risk / high reward

    2. fredwilson

      My friend Bijan has made that a cause if his in Massachusetts where they have made some real progress. I understand why non-competes are problematic but I remain supportive of non solicit agreements

      1. awaldstein

        i believe in non solicits and use them.i believe that most people are humane, honest and understanding. i also know that in this case, the corner cases are devastating at times.

        1. fredwilson

          Yeah. You can’t hire someone, introduce them to your entire team only to see them walk out with half of them

          1. Emily Merkle

            non-solicit is quite a different animal from a non-compete. and I agree with both of you.

          2. Anne Libby

            Yes, me too.

          3. JLM

            .Not really.JLM.

          4. Emily Merkle

            eh yes totally. except when you unshackle and jump off the cliff to fly solo.

          5. Emily Merkle

            ….if you hire someone who is going to walk out with half of your team, you have not hired wisely.

          6. fredwilson

            Well shit happens

          7. awaldstein

            does it ever!and it will forever.

          8. Emily Merkle

            heh that it does.

          9. pointsnfigures

            Remember on the trading floor, there were non-compete’s all over the place. Brokers didn’t want their customers stolen; guys that backed other traders didn’t want people stealing their employees. In the HFT industry, they are all over the place. On the flip side, if you sign a non-compete, you ought to get more compensation because you are limiting your options. Friend of mine negotiated paid period where he is between firms.They are hard to enforce in court.With regard to startups, I have heard some pretty nutty stuff as Fred alluded to. Shit does happen. Hopefully it doesn’t kill the company.

          10. Emily Merkle

            well, that’s the thing. with the exception of a season at the (awful0 NBA – I have *only* worked at or owned startups, in a niche that is highly dependent on complex/pivoting experience and systems understanding; and data analysis – and so the co. value was not in tech – you can buy platforms out of a box. APIs – no big deal. Analytics – outsource or GA. But – they are running on fmes; very competitive / volatile. So – typically no options (I only had 1 co. actually go public 7 i sold at top πŸ™‚ ; no salary guarantees; mainly not aggressive base – ok commish – but you work, you earn it. It’s out there. An acquired taste…but it does klil companies. It killed one of mine. It maims people. Employees get mistreated as they are effectively shackled to that gig. Esp if they are dev, in that context not as essential. Very, very contentious issue. I will *never* ask a soul to sell a year of their livelihood to me in exchange for nothing.

          11. Emily Merkle

            At the same time – your employees have free will. How would you distribute that joint act of malfeasance?

      2. Anne Libby

        Please blog on this!

      3. Emily Merkle

        Hey I know Bijan πŸ™‚

  11. LaMarEstaba

    When I saw that Elon did this yesterday, I was amazed. It’s true that they are not a software company, and that as an auto company this makes more sense. There are higher barriers to entry in the auto space; it’s also true that, as other commenters have said, the big auto companies don’t want to trust Elon not to sue them if they implement Tesla innovations.It has the potential to give a turbo charge to electric car manufacturers who are already in the space. One company that I’ve been following is Lit Motors and their C-1. http://litmotors.com/c1/ It’s a beautiful electric motorcycle that looks like a small car and has the features you’d expect (climate control, seat belts, etc.). I imagine companies like that taking some things from Tesla and putting them into existing products. I can’t imagine anybody taking Tesla’s specs and copying them wholesale, although it’s possible that it could happen in China. Tesla has a big enough moat of non-patent assets (goodwill, for one) that this decision, though not intuitive, is a great one.

  12. JimHirshfield

    Hey, wait, is this another market where 0.25% market share is huge win?

    1. Emily Merkle

      My market total is 4% between a handful, and GOOG has the other 96% which is the near-totality of their revenue…Yes, plenty of money to go around.

  13. JimHirshfield

    I hope everyone who has a hand in the patent system thinks long and hard about this.Incumbents don’t want change. They’re looking out for their own interests. So, how do we get politicians or courts to think/act differently?

    1. Anne Libby

      “So, how do we get politicians or courts to think/act differently?”Lol.

      1. Emily Merkle

        The market acts and the puny politicians follow the open source patent law legislation movement. Anyone who needs to hide behind a patent needs to step up their game.

    2. Emily Merkle

      patents hinder everyone from moving forward. it’s a defensive position. defensive linemen do not go for the red zone. I’d rather – not show the other teams my playbook; that is silly; that is your secret sauce – but level the field a bit – at least ALLOW them on the field – access to the same pool of talent, combine, recruiting process….and … go ND!

  14. Dan Field

    Isn’t one of Tesla’s problems lack of charge stations? So he needs the mass market… he can’t do that alone.It’s a smart move for Tesla… but hopefully a good knock-on effect for Patent reform.

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Does Elon even know the word “Can’t” exists ?I think your statement underestimates his Can abaility

      1. Emily Merkle

        I would just love the stars to have aligned to be a Tesla or a Musk. Or a Gates. You need the vision…but you also need the coin.

  15. John Revay

    “and possibly the most innovative entrepreneur in the world right now.”And….he appears to make one hell of a car!Tesla has been installing and maintaining charging stations at the new rest stops in along I-95 in CT. They (Tesla) apparently have great road side assists as well.One last point – I have not fully followed their sales channel – however it seems like they are changing that part of the business as well – selling direct to customers (who needs a big fancy dealership w/ a bunch of service bays when you have a bitchin FAST electric motor under the hood).My only issue in the CT burbs – not sure how viable an all electric car is (think heating in winter and cooling in summer – both have to be a large drain on the battery).Fred – did you place your order yet?

    1. Dan Field

      Opening up the tech should solve the ‘living in the CT burbs’ issues :)He’s lettings the mass producers solve the problems for him now he’s got the basics sorts (And his head start).

      1. Emily Merkle

        rock on. thought so.

    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      There is enough by product heat generated whenever you transfer energy that heating is not an issue (feel a battery warm up as it discharges)Re cooling the Co-efficient of performance of a heat pump (like a refrigerator can exceed 1 – you just have to move the heat not create it) – with a moving vehicle and a lot of motive force available for compression the cooling overhead is not that great

      1. John Revay

        Thank you – I was most concerned w/ heating the cabin/interior in the winter.I am just a bean counter (vs a EE or ME) that works a little for a solar electronics company – I know only a little…but sometimes – it is enough to be dangerous!

  16. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    I am so glad I checked AVC todayApropros really interesting and technological lines between big industry shifting I thought this Bloomberg and related Forbes response story this week might interest AVC’ers too http://www.bloomberg.com/nehttp://www.forbes.com/sites

  17. harris497

    At the risk of being shown the door, I must admit that I hold a different opinion to most here – including you Fred. As a holder of two patents related to the toy/game industry, I believe in patent reform, but not a lessening of the stringency related to non-holder compliance. It cost me much as an unfunded innovator to get my idea protection, and without VC money and the toy industry being what it is, I’m taking a bit longer to actualize my idea than I at first thought. What that means is that I may be considered a troll, when what I actually am is an innovator of limited circumstances. Over the six or so years since I received my patent, I’ve faced lots of difficulty, but that shouldn’t negate the option of me retaining the protection I sought and received.I agree that there should be a way to excise the trolls, but inventors need protection, and lessening this instead of beefing up the administrative oversight and issue resolution process so that conflict is resolved faster, is (I believe) the same as throwing cold water on the innovation process – for the little guy – that we all want to encourage.Just my two cents worth…

    1. fredwilson

      Why can’t you build a product and take it to market?

      1. johndodds

        Getting shelf space in toy stores is incredibly tough – pay to play coupled with sale or return places all the downside onto the producer. I’m amazed any newcomer ever breaks through.

        1. fredwilson

          Can’t you sell online?Kickstarter?

          1. johndodds

            It seems to me that you’re almost forced to do that and accept that benefits of scale will be far down the line.

          2. Emily Merkle

            whelp. what does the passage of time have to do with scale? what is scaling? there is no interest.

          3. Emily Merkle

            and it is an honest, well-tested, good plan. I dunno. not too sexy. books for kids. smarts don’t sell.

          4. Emily Merkle

            You know, Fred – statistically 90% of the deficiency must lie with my presentation – but I cannot for the life of me raise a dime for my childhood literacy venture via CF….it apears you cannot just magically throw a venture up on Indie or Crowdrise or AL & have it rain money…anyone know of a resource that advises on optimal pitching?

          5. LE

            I’m no kickstarter expert by any means but you are focusing on the “engine that could” as opposed to the vast number of people that don’t make any headway and not for lack of a good product (could just be they don’t have social influence or can’t make a catchy video).Would be interesting for someone to do a few a/b tests with exactly the same product altering the social influence as well as product presentation. Same features, benefits, product just change those factors. What you would find is that it takes much to have the world find your better mouse trap.Getting into retail is a different game for sure but once you have cleared that barrier you have a good advantage.

          6. sachmo

            Maybe he can sell online… but maybe only 15% of his target market buy toys online and 85% buy toys thru retail outlets or catalogs where entrenched competition has distribution advantage. And maybe if you don’t have a patent and go thru smaller retailers, they notice how well your product is doing and copy it before you go mainstream.I work in robotics / med devices. Patent protection is one of the only ways that new companies have the space to get started. In toys at least, people try new stuff out all the time. In the medical field, it takes YEARS to gain traction, so protection is even more important.

          7. Emily Merkle

            pharms patent pays for the research. and they still abuse it. explain how one gauges the success of a toy “before it goes mainstream” – how would you get that sales data? is the toy market that cutthroat that toy developers are tackling each other over identical concepts?again – patents are unnecessary. they are an ensured head start. so, the innovator is aquiesing that he/she needs a handicap on the course. Before they even tee off. No confidence? That fits the stereotypical successful entrepreneur of NONE I know or have heard of.

          8. sachmo

            Pharmaceutical companies have nothing to do with what I’m talking about and are not a reasonable comparison to an individual person.For an individual person with a hardware concept and a very limited amount of money, a patent affords some protection early on while the device is gaining traction.So regarding distribution, lets take the case of wireless networked speakers. The first company to come up with this that I’m aware of is Sonos. They spent millions on R&D, developed a speaker system that is wireless and has network capabilities (i.e. speakers operate on a network that can be controlled by applications that access that network).They started in 2003 believe it or not, long before streaming music had gone mainstream. Their current feature set is protected by a number of patents. As they began to gain traction, Sony or Bose, or whomever could have copied their feature set and basically put them out of business. They are now doing 500+ million in revenue.There is no other company with a feature set quite like theirs. This has nothing to do with confidence. It’s just poor planning to start a business (as an individual with resources in perhaps the tens of thousands of dollars) with no defensible moat that an entrenched competitor with hundreds of millions of dollars that could easily steal / copy the idea.

          9. Emily Merkle

            <the comments=”” are=”” not=”” aligning=”” properly=”” it=”” seems=””> why do you assume the idea was “stolen” or “copied”?

          10. sachmo

            Because this happens all the time. And companies DO litigate over IP and successfully defend their innovations.

          11. Emily Merkle

            But – to your example – Bose? An extremely reputable brand with consistently high-quality product – stealing? That would be in the press.

          12. sachmo

            Sure… the article would read, “Sonos and Bose in high stakes IP battle”… does that sound familiar…”Samsung and Apple in high stakes IP battle”…

          13. Emily Merkle

            article “would” read – I will consult the Oracle and find it myself, if it exists.

          14. sachmo

            Well in the wireless speaker market they haven’t gone to IP warfare yet, but reputeable brands copy feature sets without respect to IP all the time. If they think they can get away with it, or fend off patent suit they’ll do it. It’s common.

          15. Emily Merkle

            I hear and understand what you are saying; at the same time, when waves of innovation hit an industry, development occurs in more than one org, regardless of who holds a patent. It is not an indication of a ripoff, necessarily. Does that make sense?

          16. sachmo

            Sure, and that’s fine.But take the perspective of an enterprising hardware engineer for a moment.Suppose I’m a hardware engineer with a truly unique idea, the know-how to make it, and about $10k to spend on it. For almost any product, I’m going to have to make a commitment of several years to prototype, raise cash, launch the product, and grow a business. 2-3 years and that’s for almost anything. For me to make that kind of commitment, I’d need to know that my idea (if it’s truly unique as I said) has some kind of IP protection. Without that protection, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t forgo a high salary to work on something, bring it to market, and allow people to basically copy my biz model and product. It would make more sense for me to just not innovate, keep my mouth shut, and work up thru the ranks for many many years. The innovation would never reach the marketplace.There’s a lot of evidence to support that one of the reasons why the industrial revolution came to England, Germany, and the US over say Mexico in the 1850s was because of their developed patent systems. It incentivized individuals to develop ideas.I get that in software, the PTO has done a bad job issuing loose patents, but that’s actually not the case in hardware. In hardware, the PTO actually does a good job rejecting obvious patents, so the system works.

          17. Emily Merkle

            I can empathize; i bootstrap my startups in a very contentious industry as well. Tough. But 1) how can anyone “copy” your invention if it does not exist? and 2) what is an “obvious” patent?

          18. sachmo

            1) They copy it after it exists but before I’ve gained traction. They have maybe 1-2 years to do this while I’m still penetrating the market and they have channel advantages.2) ‘obviousness’ is a test that the PTO does to reject patents. If an innovation is ‘obvious’ to someone skilled in the art, the patent gets rejected. In hardware, the PTO has been doing a good job of rejecting obvious patents for the past couple hundred years. In software, I think they just hired a lot of crappy reviewers that had never written code and could not do proper reviews.Also one other point to shine some more light on this general discussion.My viewpoint and Harris’s (the toy developer) represent true ‘small’ entities, i.e. individuals with ideas. Fred’s doesn’t really. He may be a good guy, but he’s also a VC with a couple hundred million under his management. Fred’s portfolio companies will typically have a few million dollars in hand.Fred’s viewpoint is not the ‘small guy’ viewpoint. It’s more like the new elites vs the old elites. The old elites being the big pharma companies, the new elites being venture backed software companies.Both the old guard and new guard are acting to simply protect their own interests, the new software companies are in some ways no better in than Pharma. They want all the walls broken down so they can infringe on whatever innovations and capture markets. The Pharma companies want very high walls so they can charge outrageous sums of money for drugs.In reality though the entire debate is missing what is helpful to create safe zones for small entities (where 90% of the ideas come from) to get started. The annoying thing is that all of the software developers or designers, or whomever that comment on this blog are all basically in that venture-backed startup elite group and have a ‘group think’ on this issue. They are totally blind to the needs of boot strappers, or people with innovations in other areas than software.And they want to change the laws across the entire patent system because it benefits themselves… Pharma companies generally don’t do blogs, but at their equivalents (maybe trade shows / pharma conferences) they all meet and have the same sort of groupthink about protecting patents.It’s really sad to see AVC fall into this pattern.

          19. Emily Merkle

            I can address a key point. The lifeblood of tech – developers, designers, programmers – talent – is in place before any acquisition is made. Before Fred plunks down cash, as it were. It is the concept AND the talent to execute that is invested in. At the same time – I am not the “elite” if that is what you choose to label whomever – but that does not make me less of a professional – the talent is key across the board.without talent you have nothing. No matter your patented idea. Look – you cannot deny the reality that technology is the preeminent driver of the economy; it shows no sign of waning. Why would there *not* be a movement to remove hindrances to innovation – which patents are? Industries wax and wane. Manufacturing is not waxing. Especially small-scale manufacturing. Reality is – conditions are ever-changing; you must pivot; adapt; ramp up your game. or do something else that is not so reliant on patents as you perceive them to be.

          20. sachmo

            “I am not the “elite” if that is what you choose to label whomever”This blog definitely attracts a particular demographic, highly interested in venture capital fueled application development. Not saying you are, but there’s no doubt the plurality of commenters have gainful employment somewhere in this ecosystem. This particular ecosystem has an incentive (much like the oil industry or the pharma industry) in lobbying the government for a particular outcome related to patents. You can put quotes around ‘elites’ or belittle my point, but I think it’s still valid. There’s a huge amount of vested interest in removing patents.This does *NOT* support innovation. This supports venture backed software companies, who are familiar with one particular slice of innovation. For the most under-represented slice, bootstrapping individuals, this would not be favorable at all.”Why would there *not* be a movement to remove hindrances to innovation – which patents are?”Um… what? Did you read any of my other posts? Maybe if you work in venture backed software it’s great. If you are an *individual* who has limited cash, a viable idea, and is not interested in venture capital, a patent is the incentive that FUELS innovation.Honestly, I believe you have jumped on this bandwagon without really examining how this really affects various classes of entrepreneurs. For individuals interested in hardware innovation, who would rather not seek out venture capital (of which most companies don’t), patents are what FUEL innovation as I’ve argued above.I could not disagree more. I am an individual. I have a patent. I have made a meaningful innovation for total knee surgery. I would not have done so with out patent protection.For proof, see: https://www.google.com/pate…All of this other stuff you’re talking about-pivot, change manufacturing, adapt, etc – this is irrelevant and affects other aspects of the business model. Pivoting is something you do before you patent something. Going Lean is something you do after you scale. Adapt is something you do either before freezing hardware design or after you’re first successful product.This is just fad speak. If you respond, please come up with a serious argument for HURTING innovation, hurting individual bootstrapping entrepreneurs, and supporting big money (i.e. pension funds that fuel venture backed startups)… explain to me why this *ELITE*, cash-rich group need more advantages to spread their various internet services at the expense of smaller time entrepreneurs that truly innovate.

          21. Emily Merkle

            Respectfully, I do think you might find a more suitable audience to discuss your concerns about patent legislation elsewhere, given your statements above, which are not reflective of this group, or this industry. Just my observation; not an ejection by any means.

          22. sachmo

            Wow, what a non-answer.Respectfully, you would fall into the groupthink category definitely.Thankfully, there are some other free-thinkers in this forum…

          23. Emily Merkle

            why would it take years to get traction? you (pre-beta) cultivate your physician specialist network; beta with them; gather data/feedback; tweak; adjust network as necessary/on demand (all the while marketing/demoing) – years? those guys do like 15-20 knees a day. a single ortho. who else is going to get their mitts on your devices? You distribute to network under contract. no patent needed.

          24. sachmo

            It can take years to gain traction because orthopedic surgeons are slow to learn new techniques. My device may enable a minimally invasive approach, which requires new training. Or they may not trust the clinical results until longer term studies come out. Or medicare may take a while to make a new code for my device and in the meantime it can only be used in concierge hospitals.You can make a lot of random assumptions, but if you’ve worked in the industry, you’d know that generally (there are weird exceptions to everything) but a very strong generally, it takes years for new med devices to gain market traction. Margins are high though, so you can still run a profitable business, however, the big players are VERY big players.

          25. Emily Merkle

            I have a family rife with surgeons. I personally am about to get my knees done by the best guy in town who also did my dad’s knees. These guys are machines. The iterations of devices are not radical; in fact as an example about 7 years ago I went in and the guy said – yeah I could scope you, would not do any good, wait *15* years for tech to catch up then go bionic. That personally indicated that device innovation, understandably, is a slow progression. A decent practitioner can evaluate clinical trials easily – and if you are a viable vendor , you will provide credible and thorough trial results so that you get picked up and into queue quicker. Code for Medicare? umm. I understand Mediacare is a stumbling bureaucracy – but you apply and what – you tell me. Month? I can’t imagine that a major hurdle. The key – from my perspective, which is obviously not medical or mechanistic, but distribution/research/seting yourself up for success – heavily research and court that initial pool. Play to thir strengths; fnd mutual fits between techniques and your devices. Measure their reach. Alliances.

          26. sachmo

            I’m sorry, but your family members do not magically confer upon you any special knowledge of the medical device distribution.”The iterations of devices are not radical”I don’t know what you define as radical… Maybe as an individual my idea is radical, then again maybe’s it’s not. But it may be a *profitable* idea, and my patent protection is meaningful.”A decent practitioner can evaluate clinical trials easily – and if you are a viable vendor , you will provide credible and thorough trial results so that you get picked up and into queue quicker.”Ok, so you’ve made about 5 assumptions here… First that my device is going thru clinical trials, and that as a company I would have any control over time or duration of the clinical trials. Most devices don’t go thru clinical trials. 2ndly, the FDA will mandate terms of the trials.Anyway, this isn’t why it takes years to get traction. A device that DOESNT go thru trials, still gets reported on in the medical literature and at conferences. Although there are always some early adopters, most surgeons like to see peer review before jumping on board.”Code for Medicare? umm. I understand Mediacare is a stumbling bureaucracy – but you apply and what – you tell me. Month? I can’t imagine that a major hurdle.”No, it’s not a month. It’s a long and involved process to get a code.So basically, if I’m a person with an idea, I’m not going to invest a few years into developing the device and launching it in the marketplace if it can easily be stolen. And I personally don’t develop it, the idea never gets made and patients don’t benefit from my potential innovation.

          27. Emily Merkle

            The Federal Department of Agriculture oversees ortho clinical trials? πŸ˜‰ I have a PhD in psych. If you don’t condct a study of the device as it functions an ameliorates patients’ ailments (akin to your clinical trial) and you go to a conference – there is nothing to present. Right? I just did a quick search on knee cartilage replacement clinical trials – pages of results. I get the peer review thing.I guess my question is – at what point are you exposing your innovation to potential competition, requiring patent protection?

          28. sachmo

            FDA – Food and Drug AdministrationOk… clinical trials are a very specific type of tests performed on human volunteers. They are usually a smaller sample size that are closely followed before device is cleared for wider release. Most devices don’t go thru clinical trials.This doesn’t mean they don’t get tested, they do. It would depend on whether device is Class I or Class II (or Class III). Supposing a Class II device, you would test it out on human cadavers, and this data would be submitted to the FDA. This is very different from a trial and a lot less time consuming. This and the clinical trials are for the FDA only. These data sets would not be presented at conferences.At Conferences what would be presented are how the device has actually performed on real patients once it’s been released into the field. So by about 2-3 years after your device is released, various hospitals may undertake studies to see how your device is performing and review the results at a conference. Again, different from clinical trials and cadaver study.I would be exposing myself to serious risk at the time I release my device. Other companies can copy it unless I have patent protection. This is common even when there is protection, and companies in med device field will litigate to defend their moats…

          29. Emily Merkle

            one more thing – you do not “teach ” then how to perform the surgery. They work it out. They practice and practice and practice and tweak. Professionals. Not slow. Thorough.

          30. sachmo

            Sure I do. I did for the Mako Robot. It’s called Makoplasty. Look it up.

          31. Emily Merkle

            Reviewed site. Saw no detail on how a surgeon would perform any procedure…

          32. sachmo

            The approach for partial knee is different than what they would use normally. Also the instrument sets are completely different. A surgeon couldn’t just pick up the tools and go. They’d have to come for a training event before they would realistically be able to perform the procedure.http://en.wikipedia.org/wikhttps://www.youtube.com/wat

        2. pointsnfigures

          Cards Without Humanity did it, no patents just great P2P marketing.

        3. LE

          There is limited amount of shelf space hence shelf space.That’s also a classic barrier to entry.It’s actually good for those that have the product and perseverance to get into the store.Keeps out pain in the ass bystanders and wannabees those many others who are discouraged or don’t have the product that ends up making it. Not a bad thing but a good thing.Pay to play isn’t necessarily bad. A cousin of mine owned some supermarkets. He got paid slotting fees and even money to put in vending machines because he had what people wanted, traffic which would buy their product. What’s wrong with that? Obviously he had to take into account whether the product would sell and whether the margins were right and a host of other factors.Stores are in business to make money.Anything easy invites competition.In my ex wife’s business she had to do all sorts of weird things so that a certain Ivy League college bookstore would allow her to give out her product at the register. The indignities she suffered. I thought that was great. Kept out her competition and made it harder for them.When I sold my first business I was never able to make headway with a certain account. The person who bought it had connections to the board (by one of his investors) and got a big contract that we could never get despite trying many times.Good for him, the way it worked and I’m sure it factored into his decision to purchase the business in the first place. In other cases I got the upper hand. Welcome to the world of business and life not being fair.

      2. LE

        Assuming you are patent worthy to begin with, if you build a product that is unique, and you get it to market and it sells, a big guy will come along and make the product cheaper (or cut off your air supply you remember Microsoft/Netscape?) and possibly drive you out of business.That is not an argument that everything should be patented but the reality that if you have a good idea and it takes off others who are less scrupulous or have more resources could run you out of business.Now of course if you aren’t doing anything unique (you are just baking a cupcake) then this doesn’t make any difference.As a rule I think their are many patents that obviously were wrongly issued. But there are some that are “ok” in my book and deserve to be protected.Separately I own trademarks which I had to get in order to prevent large companies from grabbing things that I owned that they wanted. It was defensive in nature not done as offense.

        1. harris497

          Precisely

      3. harris497

        I have, but it’s taking a long time, perhaps because I am inexperienced or because my product is no good (not the reason:) or because I was too timid or because I lacked the funding to build traction, or because my partner and I … too many possible reasons.I’ll continue trying, but don’t take away my only advantage over those who are larger, with deeper pockets, and willing to wait.

      4. sachmo

        Because the first major consideration of someone that would fund a production equivalent prototype (i.e. the people that finance the expensive tooling and such to make the product) want to see IP protection. Let’s suppose they did not. In many cases, being the new guy, you’re channels will be smaller than the entrenched companies. If it’s good, they’ll notice and copy your device before it becomes mainstream, and then you’re screwed.Tooling costs and distribution are not the same for software, it’s different.

        1. Emily Merkle

          what are “channels”?

        2. Emily Merkle

          what exactly is “tooling”; context is helpful…

    2. fredwilson

      And nobody other than spammers are shown the door here. All opinions are welcome. We may debate them but we don’t dismiss them

      1. pointsnfigures

        Spam Spam Spam Eggs and Spam.

    3. Emily Merkle

      Why exactly do inventors need protection? From what? From whom?

      1. Emily Merkle

        To respectfully draw a parallel, I am an unfunded innovator; I have bootstrapped a handful of startups, and my work is my intellectual property. My ideas. I am a little guy too – I hear you, it is a scramble. Let your work define you and set you apart; success will follow (or not) – a cloak of protection is not necessary.

        1. harris497

          Emily, your statement presumes that I have not tried and had the door closed in my face on multiple occasions (and no doubt will again while I keep my day-job). That’s the game and I accept it, but don’t preclude me from having the opportunity to play in the future by removing my only bargaining chip and competitive advantage- aka patent protection.

          1. Emily Merkle

            My apologies; I actually made no such assumption. May i ask what you aim to achieve? What are you working on? i hear you – I am trying fruitlessly to raise some money for a non-profit I would love to get off the ground – but – no traction. <no patent=”” protection=”” for=”” ineptitude=””>

      2. LE

        It used to be that a patent was worthless unless you had the money to defend it. So this is a case where the pendulum has swung in a way that has created unintended consequences. Because people end up gaming the system. And than everyone and their uncle piles in and games the system even more.

    4. Emily Merkle

      No one will show you the door. But you will not find syncophants herein. Semantics. You have an idea on paper with some legalese. I do not in any way mean to demean your original thought – that’s where it all begins, right? The rest is cash…and other stuff – but – 6 years, without movement toward execution – if you are tying up a winner, you are stifling innovation. In common parlance, making you a troll. (Hate that term). That’s just how I see things. I just believe Ideas are open source. Often, collaboration – sharing your ideas – leads to exponentially greater gains.

    5. Emily Merkle

      you know, I can totally relate. I am trying to get funding for a venture; no luck so far. I did my due diligence to check out the competition; I have one viable competitor; slight tweaky difference. No big deal. I do not need a patent. I am confident it will come to be.

  18. NS

    This is a marketing move. No competition = no market. Build market and then differentiate on product.

  19. Richard

    This is great but Elon is not the first engineer to open his patent poftfolio. Not even in the automotive sector. It was Mercedes Benz. At one time, Daimler-Benz was run by engineers. And it built the best car in the world. DB invented the car with rigid passenger shell and crumpling ends – as well as antilock breaks and it waived its patent rights and allowed everyone to use it. I’m sure elon knows this?

    1. ErikSchwartz

      Elon has better PR people.

      1. LE

        Yeah well his PR people may not have done their research as far as using an internet meme as a headline for that post.

      2. Emily Merkle

        no one needs PR.

    2. awaldstein

      They also used Jewish slave labor during WW2.If fact, rumors have it that they used slaves as crash test dummies to test safety features.Lovely people at the helm of that historical company.

      1. LE

        Wow I’m totally surprised at those statements coming from you Arnold.Porsche contributed to the war effort as well by the way.Neither companies participation prevented me from buying their vehicles despite having been directly impacted in many ways by the holocaust. Nor was it every discouraged in any way by a community of people who had terrible experiences during that time.Also I’m not clear on the purpose of replying to Rich’s comment regarding MB’s patents (I don’t know if what he is saying is even true by the way I’ll assume that it is) and talking about something like this.

        1. Emily Merkle

          …You might argue that buy buying German, you are supporting the economy of a nation whose greatest treasure we annihilated – that’s economic reparation.

          1. LE

            My dad was an importer from Israel. Back when there were wars in the 70’s and everyone was attacking Israel his business increased because people in the US wanted to support Israel in any way they could. So they bought more merchandise that was “Made In Israel”.

          2. Emily Merkle

            Along (kind of) the same lines, I noted a meme with celebrity couples – not getting married until “everyone can get married legally’. And from what I noted – they backed it up. That is a statement. I like that.

      2. JLM

        .Deutsche Bank has the blood of stolen Jewish assets on its balance sheet and the US gave it a bank charter. An obscenity.JLM.

        1. awaldstein

          Agree wholeheartedly.Maybe its me and my heritage but I have so much problem getting past company participation in this historical horror.

          1. pointsnfigures

            If you want to research WW2, http://www.nationalww2museu…. Lots of people and institutions have blood on their hands and balance sheets in Europe. Especially the French. More collaborateurs than resistance. At some point though, you have to move on. One side of my family is from the south, and I am almost certain they owned slaves. But, that was pre 1865. I wasn’t around and shouldn’t carry any of the blame for it. My friend escaped Poland and lost his whole family in the Holocaust. He drives a Porsche. I understand how people feel, but they should be confined to the people of that era. Unless they are still around…..

          2. awaldstein

            I’m good and maybe my comment was ill placed.My response was to the fact that it was being held out that they had engineers at their helm and somehow that made them better. They may have been engineers who happened to also be serious mutants and monsters.I had a 86 911 turbo coup that I seriously loved so trust me I’m at peace with this. Context drove this remark.

          3. pointsnfigures

            Remember that car and lusted after it like a dog in heat! I worry about “reparations” and that argument being repeated through history. I think if it’s tangible (like art see Monuments Men by Robert Edsel) it ought to be returned. If it’s wages, they ought to be paid to the person if alive, but not the heirs. Not one penny will be enough to cover the pain and suffering.

          4. awaldstein

            Complex issue.The learnings are in the subtleties, yet the subtleties are difficult to grasp in the face of the monstrosity of the reality.

          5. Emily Merkle

            We have an A6. Love. Our 2nd. Impeccable (tho pricey) service. Quality, understated.It is unavoidable. We pay for the transgressions of our ancestors. (and I have a strong feeling history will view our own recent actions as being particularly humane)

          6. LE

            I’m on my third Porsche and have owed 2 MB’s and BMW’s. My father (who was actually in a camp and lost much of his family in the camps as I’ve pointed out before) thought the Germans made great products. I bought a Linotype computerized typesetter in the 80’s for my first business. Never ever even came up not to buy German products. Otoh I remember a friend in high school whose father was a dentist who wouldn’t buy a MB back then “because of what they did”.Germany of course paid reparations and still does so to this day. Most people aren’t aware of that. And not much on that if you google it either interestingly.

          7. Emily Merkle

            It’s not cool to publish press that Nazis have consciences…kinda like when you go to research Scientology. so on.

          8. LE

            What’s the connection between reparations and Nazis? Please explain.

          9. Emily Merkle

            the prior commenter said there ws no or little record on GOOG or Grmany’s ongoing reparations; I said – that’s b/c it’s not cool to post about nazis with consciences. no searches there. <half joke=””>

          10. Emily Merkle

            Its not about individuals. It’s about reestablishing your country’s moral and ethical and humane status in the global ecosystem. There can not be enough money printed. It is symbolism. It is recognizing and continuing to remind yourself and your citizens – yes, we messed up. We know this. We will not forget. This is how you will know we have not forgotten.

        2. ShanaC

          Someone of my generation: Aren’t the not full of crimes anymore – when do we give up?(there is a reason I am the last generation in my family allowed german citizenship. its essentially this)

          1. Emily Merkle

            Ya gotta let it go. Or it will eat you up. There can never be justice on that level. Think about it – say what you will; we have helped decimate the entire Middle East. Geographically; agriculturally; societally; religiously; humanely; politically. How are we going to work off that karmic debt? Does anyone care? Think Congress will vote on reparations? Will the people unwittingly caught in our crosshairs be forgiving – or hold eternal grudges? Model what you want to see in the world. I loved Obama’s Egypt epic speech. Top 3.

      3. leigh

        Yes but hey gave reparations to holocaust survivors and it’s why so many cabs/buses are MB and other german auto manufactures in Israel

        1. awaldstein

          knew abt reparations of course. never noticed it in israel.I’m not a zealot but the context of the comment drew this response.and of course this is not about germany and the german people, it is about nazis. not the same thing by a stretch.and yes–in my book there are things that payment and punishment are simply not enough to ever forgive. hate crime, crimes against children or even extreme cruelty to animals are simply not something you can pay the dues and have become things you did once. they are simply who you are.

          1. Emily Merkle

            you must forgive. just to simply recognize that they were as human as we are; people of our time have committed atrocities of equivalent magnitude; but for the grace of god go I. Your actions do not define you. What you do when given the opportunity to repent and try again is what really matters.

          2. awaldstein

            Don’t agree.

          3. Emily Merkle

            very well-entitled. As well as you know you hold ill-will against corpses. You forgive for *yourself*.

          4. leigh

            My daughter was telling me that she had a German friend and he said it was really interesting learning about WW2 in Canada vs. Germany. He said in Canada it is always taught as what the Germans did to the Jews — he said in Germany they are taught about what the Nazi’s did….

          5. awaldstein

            This is a complex issue riddled with ambiguity, shades of grey, and challenges to easy thinking.It is riddled with even more edges when of course you have a personal cultural involvement.

          6. leigh

            i agree — it’s very personal indeed. reminded me of two posts i’ve written in the past about my own family history and about anti-semitism in generalhttp://leighhimel.blogspot….http://leighhimel.blogspot….

          7. awaldstein

            Thanks for the share.I really enjoyed the scene in the post about the graveyard. I’ll share a story with you sometime about my dad’s family who immigrated from Poland to Paterson and the village bought a plot of land for a graveyard. All in Yiddish. There is only one spot left–for my mom.

          8. Emily Merkle

            Totally. My family is – shocker – unrepenetantly German. But i live my life – cant live anyone else’s – I live in a way that transcends country of origin and nonsense ( and not-such-nonsense). I do not profess to have the answers – but – why keep looking back, dwelling, wen you can look forward, and shape your existence and that of others for the better?

          9. Emily Merkle

            akin to – how do the Chinese feel when they “find out” about Tiannamen Square … because it has been censored?

        2. Emily Merkle

          well..if they are a german auto manu. in Israel – they are an Israeli auto manufacturer, right?

      4. Emily Merkle

        It was a company. Run by people who are dead and gone. Companies are legal shells. They have assets; reputations; etc. But – you cannot disavow a manufacturer – a soulless corporation – from operating due to past transgressions that were – I hear – not all that uncommon. The people are what matter. Their hands are clean. Let them polish the rep of a truly quality operation.

      5. Richard

        I was caught off guard with your comment. I’m still struggling to put it into context. I think i finally understand. You thought i was making the Nazi MB Engineer the moral equivalent of Elon Musk as both gave up their patents?MB patents i was referring to were from the 70’s.

        1. awaldstein

          It’s been bugging me all day that I let myself respond as I did.Yes, indeed I thought we were holding them up cause they were engineers with a broader point of view and I jumped–as the auto manufacturers in Germany were really horrid collaborators and beneficiaries of the regime. MB for certain.My bad actually.No offense I hope taken to you especially whose opinions and dialogue I respect greatly. If I offended, I apologize.Hate crimes. Stereotyping. Bigotry are all zero tolerance for me.

          1. Visakan @ ReferralCandy

            I enjoyed witnessing this correspondence. Thank you, gentlemen, for being mature about this.

    3. Emily Merkle

      when you know you are without peer – why not open the field and extend a challenge? I admire it. i will talk about anything I do with anyone because I find it fascinating….but most people’s eyes glaze over after 3 minutes….so…<oh well=””>

    4. Emily Merkle

      Patents just document – to “sufficient detail” – the specs necessary to manufacture patented item. If you waive patent rights – it does not means you are mass-mailing your specs out to teh competition – it just means – hey, we built this. You may buy one, or look, what you wish. Imitate. Catch us if you can. We do not need the “protection” of a patent – which impedes innovation. And it is companies like Mercedes – and Elon – that are accelerating innovation through modeling HOW IT SHOULD BE DONE.

  20. jason wright

    whereas google offers a trojan horse to the global car industry, and therefore nothing good happens. well done Elon.

    1. Emily Merkle

      yayayayay

      1. jason wright

        how would that sound if i heard you say it?

        1. Emily Merkle

          4 kinda high-pitched happy yays in rapid succession – because I do not like GOOG.

          1. jason wright

            got it. i do not like GOOG either.i would like to see the word ‘goog’ enter the popular culture.”oh, s/he was being such an absolute… goog”

          2. Emily Merkle

            I mean, really – if your credo is “Do No Evil” – WTF??I have been going up against them for 14 years – actually before Adwords existed – and they are some scheming .. well some things better unsaid here…

  21. John Revay

    It is a good day for all of us…Remembering the documentary about GM killing the electric car. I am glad that Elon appears to be winning the fighthttp://www.imdb.com/title/t…

    1. LE

      Remembering the documentary about GM killing the electric car.Many documentaries are lopsided presentations that are usually over the top in making their intended point. And contain various inadequacies in the sense that they don’t fully explain why their assumptions may be off base.There was another meme that went around years ago as far as oil companies killing all these guys who had some kind of fuel that could greatly increase the MPG on cars. Was always blamed on the oil companies.I just read the summary for that film and this stands out:They saw losses from development costs and the virtual absence of maintenance and replacement parts which, for gas cars, bring ongoing profits.Of course car companies now don’t really make any money off this (compared to the old days) as a result of warranties that cover bumper to bumper. Many companies (such as BMW) even cover brakes and wiper blades as well.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Remember the ads in the early 80’s for the special carburetors that could get you 80mpg?

        1. LE

          Yeah but the reason that didn’t sell wasn’t the auto companies crushing it, or Exxon, and not because it didn’t (haha) work, it’s because the marketing didn’t use sex to sell it!! See the attached ad below (when it shows up after disqus vets it that is). You get more with “guns” and ad copy than just ad copy alone.Separately, you would be interested in this documentary featuring Alinea in Chicago (is on Netflix). Well worth watching for just that part, the other restaurants are less interesting story wise. I’m guessing you knew the story about Grant and some issues he had, I didn’t, and it was quite a shock.http://www.spinningplatesmo…Also a tie in to cars in it as well which was interesting. Like his father Grant has an “addiction”.

          1. pointsnfigures

            I knew about Grant’s thing. My friend went through the same thing, same doc and survived. Not a lot of fun, especially if you are a chef. His restaurant Alinea is one I have not eaten at yet. Don’t know if I have the patience-but one of these days I am going to Next, his other place. Just at at Arcadia. It was amazing.

  22. Ed B

    here’s an idea: set up a non-profit foundation that would own IP. Patent holders donate their IP to the non-profit and get a tax deduction for the market value…and the non-profit markets the IP to companies that should know about it/use it. Perhaps the tax deduction might provide some incentive to patent holders to share their hard-earned assets. Otherwise, unless you are trying to get a whole industry to shift your direction (like Tesla, who needs the public to believe that electric cars are normal), there is little reason to open up IP after having spent thousands/millions developing it…especially when you could sell it to a Troll for cash.

    1. Emily Merkle

      This is kind of being done for what they call “social entrepreneurism”.

    2. Emily Merkle

      with electric crs, there is *every8 reason to check the patent at the door. This is a potential world transportation fuel changer. who knows what else. it is in the world’s interest to not only not patent this – as Musk has – but to actually perhaps contract out to developers in other countries…possibilities…sometimes you really can have enough money.

    3. Emily Merkle

      seed planted. in motion. many many thanks.

  23. Mario Cantin

    This is incredible. Elon Musk can really put his money where his mouth is. Developments such as this give me hope for the future of manufacturing in western countries, especially the US.

    1. Emily Merkle

      I believe Elon Musk is a black swan.

  24. Jorge M. Torres

    When top down patent reform fails in Congress, as it did recently, we have to start thinking about how private parties can fix the system from the bottom up. Tesla’s announcement, the Twitter IPA, The Patent Pledge (Paul Graham), the Defensive Patent License, these are all private hacks to the patent system. These are baby steps in the right direction, and we need more like these. The opportunities to do good, and possibly build businesses around open source patents, abound.

    1. ShanaC

      what kind of business do you see happening

      1. Jorge M. Torres

        I wrote a somewhat wonky piece on this topic a while back. I’m less excited about the companies I’m seeing in this space than I was when I wrote the article, but the analysis still holds up insofar as it shows how to recognize opportunities to build businesses in this space.

        1. Emily Merkle

          I think it starts not by creating something necessarily “unique” and sexy – but recognizing a pervasive issue; estimate market/need (to start); have experience/perspective & know others who do; do an involved case study to beta concept. Business Strategy to address severe issues companies simply do not have perspective to solve.

  25. acpt

    Hey, there are some people already leading this movement. No companies needed to assume the front. Elon Musk is only one more, but this isn’t even put him on the top10 of the list, yet.

  26. Lenny Teytelman

    The same thing applies to science. I remember in my second year of graduate school becoming knowledgeable enough to start asking questions and generating ideas. So exciting! “We should run this analysis! And we can check that published dataset to answer this, and…” To which my advisor (Mike Eisen) replied, “PhD is not about coming up with ideas. It’s about picking one, focusing on it, and spending several years to dig into it and make a story.”

    1. LE

      PhD is not about coming up with ideas. It’s about picking one, focusing on it, and spending several years to dig into it and make a story.Sounds like you may have picked the wrong career path then.

      1. Lenny Teytelman

        Of course to be a scientist you need to be able to ask the right questions and think of innovative approaches to answer them. But that in itself is not enough. Chances are that 50-500 others are thinking the same thing right now. The ability to do the work is what distinguishes groundbreaking contributions from mere ideas. In science it’s the publication. In a startup it’s building the product and getting the users/revenue/profit. Regardless, the challenge is to execute and deliver, not just to come up with an idea.

        1. Emily Merkle

          I slightly disagree; in science it is not necessarily the publication – that’s the “publish or perish” hell of faculty. it *is* about the scientific method, and thinking about issues, and synergies; groundbreaking work starts with ideas; it is a lifelong process. Publication is merely bits of ephemera – not to diminish it – kind of like progress reports, along the way. Some are theoretical; some experimental; some are meta-analyses. Then – the worldview – changer.

          1. Lenny Teytelman

            Indeed, it all starts with amazing ideas. But as you say, it is a lifelong process. The effort to see those ideas through is key. (Regarding publish/perish, completely agree. Our whole startup is devoted to disrupting the 300-year-old publishing paradigm that is now hurting science as much as it was helping it centuries ago.)

          2. Emily Merkle

            OMG totally. Profs are eating each other alive. i had one in a PhD proram who literally ripped off the interactive theory I developed for the class I took with her. First year. Published, first and sole author. Not cool.

          3. Emily Merkle

            wait – what are you doing to change things? yes the peer-review is – if even slightly, then thoroughly, as witnessed with climate change debacle – tainted – something’s gotta give. Get profs and independent sci/esearchers funding from external sources that are blind and issue-neutral. pay for the brainpower, not the vote – unlike politics, haha.Interested. Very.

  27. Adrian Meli

    Wow, hadn’t seen that yet. Glad I checked in to avc today. Still waiting for the hyperloop though! In all seriousness, Elon is such an extraordinary inspiration that I wish we had more people like him out there pushing the envelope. I was not aware of all of his backstory until I watched the documentary about him on Netflix, but it was truly fascinating to learn how often he has put himself on the line.

    1. Emily Merkle

      oh cool; I actually know nothing about *him* but I know of his ideas and have seen a charging station and it was like – holy shit he is going there!there are lots of people pushing envelopes – in the shadows – and try to push into the mainstream – where it’s “at”. But sometimes – it isn’t all the time.

  28. Salt Shaker

    If Tesla was a non-profit, then I’d have no issue w/ Elon’s treatment of patents. But since Tesla is a for-profit, publicly traded company, then I’ve got issues–especially if I’m a private or institutional investor.68% of Tesla’s stock is owned by institutional investors or mutual funds. Doubt the shareholders were jumping for joy yesterday w/ Elon’s announcement. A company’s value–especially in the tech space–is inextricably linked to its IP. For example, when unloading Motorola, Google estimated the patents they retained were worth $3.5B. Any value that BB has left is clearly in its patents.Hard to extract value from something that you’re willing to give away for free, unless the patents are fund worthless to begin with. Again, no prob if you’re a non-profit, but Tesla isn’t (although their balance sheet perhaps belies that statement).Btw, if you’ve never test driven a Tesla you really should….it’s an AMAZING vehicle!

    1. LE

      Tesla made a business decision doing this it didn’t do it to get internet karma. As such if you are an investor I’m sure you are aware of the business decisions that were made (in theory at least) in coming to this conclusion and while you may not agree they are valid this wasn’t done (for sure) simply because Elon is such a nice guy. Or anything like that. Or anything even close. Although it may have been icing on the cake. It’s amazing reading HN how many people are high fiving Musk for doing this that have no clue whatsoever what is going on here.Musk calculated the benefit of doing what he did to further electric cars which, without the critical mass of support infrastructure, are kind of a non starter.People need their vehicle to handle edge cases and having a Tesla as your primary vehicle doesn’t even handle basic cases let alone edge cases. Not to mention the fact that even with charging stations you still need to be able to charge it at home and at the office as well. I’m not saying that people won’t buy electric cars but there is just so much friction in the energy issue that it’s a non starter for most. At least at this point.

      1. Salt Shaker

        Solve the prob w/ battery life and you own the keys to the kingdom (and the highway). Yes, this was a calculated biz decision by Elon, but I don’t agree w/ it. I think it devalues the company, although that’s currently not reflected in the company’s stock price.

        1. Emily Merkle

          it is only up and to the right.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        It certainly did it for internet karma but it was also a business decision. Along with moving electric vehicle business forward, they are also in the battery business now – and they need customers.

        1. Emily Merkle

          what the hell is internet karma?

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Perception that you’re doing something good or valuable – whether it’s for posting funny cat pictures or look like you’re trying to save the world.

      3. Emily Merkle

        exactly. they made the calculations, and played the – we need to open this fiel up as wide as we can or we have no shot. period. and it’s brilliant.

    2. Emily Merkle

      IP is one thing; execution is another. So tech IP must be defined. i.e. GOOG – you think the comprehensive index of their network would be IP? (no – you can figure that out already – mostly…) All their algos (yes)? All of their (subpar) analytics mechanics? <which they=”” do=”” not=”” adequately=”” explain=”” as-is.=””> (probably) – exactly the precise ways they use searchers’ behavioral, location, and personal info (never) Just because you “can” patent something, does not necessarily make it true IP. It’s flood insurance.

      1. Salt Shaker

        I like the “flood insurance” analogy. Patents are only good to the extent they are defensible. Often somewhat ambiguous and open to interpretation. Frequently filed to deter rather than to insulate.

      2. ShanaC

        why do you think their analytics mechanics are subpar?

        1. Emily Merkle

          not for here.

          1. Emily Merkle

            I may know too much about details that most do not need/care about – and that is in and of itself troublesome on the whole. Funny sidente – a long long time ago a compare and i recognized the first PPC analytics company – Urchin – and we had been living through the chaos that is a wild west burgeoning industry – so we decided – we know what’s up, let’s go quit and start and analytics co. and our CEO would. not .let. us. quit. Twice. Then GOOG bought Urchin and – presto! GA.

          2. Emily Merkle

            email me nothing to hide just don’t wish to poke tigers …

  29. FlavioGomes

    I find the move astonishing and I’m trying to determine just how brilliant it may be. On one hand it should stir up a tailwind in the electric car industry with a chart towards critical mass. On the other, if the technology gets homogenized …is there further incentive to continue to innovate? Did the patents force others to find smarter, better more efficient ways to build an electric car? Are tesla’s patents the ultimate in electric car design?

    1. Emily Merkle

      We do not know if Tesla’s work is the “ultimate’. At this point in time, it is indeed revolutionary, I would venture to say. Wat does “ultimate” mean? The markets adapt to what the consumer & economic (and in this case, environmental) climate calls for.He’l have to get a bunch out on the road. Scientific method at serious critical mass. Collect data. analyze – blah blah – if and when the times call for an innovation, or a revolution, the minds will have been at work anticipating that moment, or that time, or that eventuality. That is genuis. Elon Musk is not a rich businessman. He is a genius. (with money; money does help)

  30. LE

    Unfortunately, this ambiguity, buried in the blog post, leaves the door open for all sorts of things to happen and if desired a case to be made in which a patent law suit could be filed, lacking a specific legal contract between companies:Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.Good faith? Definition of “good faith”:honest intent to act without taking an unfair advantage over another person or to fulfill a promise to act, even when some legal technicality is not fulfilled. The term is applied to all kinds of transactions.So we could now go on the the meaning of “unfair advantage” if we wanted, right?Generally, when writing a contract there are advantages and disadvantages to using more or less specific wording. Depending on what you want to achieve.In some cases, when dealing with some people I want to be very specific while in other cases I want to be ambiguous and loose so I can have a leg to stand on if I want. That is what Musk did here.

    1. ShanaC

      I think good faith is actually building cars

      1. LE

        You could argue that if the patents were being used by a car company that was located in a foreign country and was being subsidized (like steel dumping was) by their government then they were not being used in good faith because the company using the patents had an unfair advantage. Doesn’t even matter if it would end up holding water gives a leg to stand on.Much better than having to spell out a ton of conditions (many which you might not even know about).Also there are cases where things start out one way but morph to being more restrictive after the initial press release has long been forgotten. Those actions don’t get anywhere near the press especially if they are incremental and done over time on a case by case basis.

        1. Emily Merkle

          A patent does not – to my knowledge – dictate details such as alliances and backing. certainly there would be documentation of such; but it has nothing to do with a patent. And of *course* not everything hits the press! hell most of what hits the press does not hit most eyeballs…and much of what you read anyway take with a few or seven grains of salt.

      2. Emily Merkle

        thought I could find you πŸ™‚ not so – [email protected]

    2. Emily Merkle

      I do not agree. musk has been extremely clear. Detailed. even a little funny but not obnoxious (unlike me here sorry to all VC sometimes you just gotta poke) – and how does ambiguity lend you a leg to stand on? ambiguity favors the solid, clear stance/position/agreement. Ambiguity is not committing to anything fully. No one wants to do biz with a company like that. I don’t want to spend my time. Not worth it. I think many if not most would agree.

      1. LE

        and how does ambiguity lend you a leg to stand on?Because it gives you weasel room. And allows you to argue what is or is not reasonable.If I say “at the buffet you can have as many ribs as is reasonable” it opens up to saying “well 20 ribs is not reasonable and here’s why”? (You could point to the fact that others will eat only 12 ribs etc.)If I say “at the buffet you can have 100 ribs” then you know you can have 99 ribs. That works to the disadvantage of the party serving the ribs. (Maybe this isn’t the best example..)Here I just dug this up.http://www.metrocorpcounsel…Specifically:But how will courts interpret an ambiguous contract? There is a general rule that a court will construe ambiguous contract terms against the drafter of the agreement. But this rule only applies where one contracting party is in a superior bargaining position, usually either as a result of greater experience or the assistance of counsel.So “if drafter is in a superior position” then “ambiquity isn’t good for party in inferior position”. Why do you think that is? To me it’s obvious and the point I was making.What about when two sides are more or less in equal position.a court interpreting ambiguous contract terms will look outside the four corners of the contract to determine the parties’ intentSo that gives the party whose idea it was to be ambiguous at least a leg to stand on in order to get what they want.

        1. Emily Merkle

          ah. I am calling you out here. And you will mock me, but I know this one. I am no lawyer – but a BIG fan of TBBT – Anyway – the episoide where Leonard and Priya are examining the Roommate Agreement. (Priya – Cambridge JD) She specifically said – <paraphrase> this point is ambiguous; what is an emergency? If Leonard had to pluck his nosehair, would that constitute a bathroom emergency? She declared the point ambiguous – and – sad that ambiguity favors the draftee of said contract – “Sorry Sheldon, that’s just how the law works!”It has nothing to do with bargaining position. it is the law.

  31. Salt Shaker

    Tesla’s biggest problem isn’t manufacturing, per se, it’s infrastructure. It’s incredibly time consuming and capital intensive to build a strong dealer network like a GM, Ford or Chrysler. Right now, Tesla’s dealer net looks like a blue state map (with Texas somehow thrown into the mix). A company can’t scale unless it can distribute….and an alliance with any of the big boys immediately addresses sales, distribution, service and charging deficiencies. It’s only time before one of the big boys takes a run at Tesla, even w/ its overinflated market cap.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      AFAIK they don’t want dealerships – they want Apple-like stores.I believe another scenario will play out – and that will be that the first companies to play nice and are willing to share with Tesla will be able to ride the wave together and dominate everyone who decided to stick with the status quo.There will be a tipping point, and I’d want my hand to be aligned with the deck that’s stacked towards sustainability.

      1. Dan Epstein

        Tesla wants to sell direct (and struggles with it). The auto dealer lobby fights them pretty hard. Here’s their blog post after NJ motor vehicle commssion took away their right to sell direct.http://www.teslamotors.com/

        1. Matt A. Myers

          People can still buy them online from any places they’re prevented from opening a store. The old model will be taken over by the new model.

        2. Salt Shaker

          Tesla facing uphill climb battling legacy industry and brands. (Uber too.) Local and state dealer networks carry enormous political clout, as evidenced by the NJ blog post you shared. Tesla will be bought and everyone will be happy. They need infrastructure—sales, service, charging stations, etc. Any of big 3 (or major foreign man) can deliver overnight.

          1. Emily Merkle

            Tesa cannot be bought. It is not seeking a quick buck. C’mon, you understand this…this is a Long Term Play. Legacy? Like what? Frankly i am not even familiar with price point, but as with any price point, you get your network in place, feel out demand and adjust accordingly. as a LTP price is far more flexble…

          2. Salt Shaker

            Well, at $25B Tesla admittedly would be a large lug nut to swallow. Apple is rumored to have interest, which makes abs no sense beyond the fact they have the cash to do it. Tesla way overvalued. Someone might take a run at $12-15B, but even GM’s market cap at $57B would be a gamble. Tesla’s have a $95K price point (loaded) so one of the high end foreign auto man may make more sense, part w/ a fav exchange rate.

          3. Emily Merkle

            Apple’s got cash to burn, period. And Tesla plays to their investors who like hot new sexy things. Why not – at least a bite.

          4. Emily Merkle

            you know “valuation” is a near meaningless concept; a market anticipation that has little basis in reality. Esp. for this.

        3. Emily Merkle

          That was fab! Christie has a bridge closure he’ll sell you! And – sourced! A man after my poor nerdy heart πŸ™‚ hat a well-done, clear but thorough piece. Which probably no one but those that matter read…and some of those that “matter” are feeling perhaps threatened, or are in talks to get ahead of the curve…

          1. Emily Merkle

            Christie. What happened?

      2. Emily Merkle

        yes.

    2. Emily Merkle

      its just a business dev strategy. build alliances (I use contractors) with regional dealers. Pay them well. Pay them on time. Supply them keep them happy. They are you.

  32. John Revay

    Not directly related to Elon or the Electric car company…Has anyone ever watched the PBS movieon Nikola Teslahttp://www.pbs.org/tesla/

  33. leigh

    Tesla are genius and this move was brilliant.

  34. jim

    It would be good to see Twitter, Soundcloud, etc. do the same thing — let the patents and IP go.

    1. Emily Merkle

      yesyesyesyes they stand on their own merit! I have never “built’ anything but i have built plans; strategies; ideas that have built and changed companies; I never thought to patent those thoughts (?) for a second. can you patent a thought? Why would you? I do not enjoy keeping mine to myself. that’s why I come here.

  35. Sean Saulsbury

    It’s fine to give away one’s own patents, yet quite another to advocate others’ patents be forcibly taken from them. There certainly can be a business strategy or business model in release your product as open source (e.g., WordPress). However, these inventions are properly the property of their owners. We can quibble about some of the specifics, but what’s being attacked is patents as such.Also, it’s not clear to me why Tesla patented anything to begin with. They didn’t have to, and they could have gone “open source” from the beginning. Seems like a lot of expense to throw down the toilet. If I were a shareholder I might be a bit pissed about this move. Maybe it is the right move, I don’t know. Sometimes open source works, sometimes not. Time will tell. But let’s not turn this into an opportunity to *force* others to give up their patents. That is stealing.

    1. Emily Merkle

      you cannot “force” anyone to do anything. in business. Unless you have a good legal case….it is hardly stealing. That is rather silly. i do not believe anyone is advocating for “forcible” patent revocation; I think the convo at hand (you have to start somewhere, and Mr. Musk has opened the convo) – how about patent reform?what a patent is a “sufficient detail” of your invention and it’s construction/design/whatever + anticipated technical flawsIt is legal protection should another party devise a similar-enough gadget; you take them to court and have your patent as a priori evidence.what *not* patent-“protecting” your ideas/innovations is/means:it does not mean you are handing the keys to the castle to everyone and posting every schematic on wikipedia. It simply means – you are rolling your venture out without a net. becasue you have run the numbers and, with statistical significance, you might have wings.and that is cool.

  36. Guest

    Fred,I visited avc.com yesterday and after a few seconds I was redirected to an ad. I thought it was my computer so I spent a couple hours last night trying to rid it of any viruses.Well, today I went to avc.com and reviewed the code. I noticed something suspiciously like the ad I was redirected to (the ad had an “rnd=” at the end):<iframe width=”2″ height=”2″ scrolling=”no” style=”display: none;” src=”//x.vindicosuite.com/imp/?l=1…”>Further inspection yielded this “Sitemeter” (whatever that is) script that causes it <script type=”application/javascript” src=”http://a.sitemeter.com/anal…”>Sitemeter is an ad company (http://www.crunchbase.com/o… but if avc.com is going to redirect me to spam ads to try to make money, I’ll no longer visit avc.com. Thanks for all of the words of wisdom, but I can’t trust avc.com any longer.

  37. harris497

    Battery charging takes too long, battery trading stations are a more promising prospect, but no one is engineering an easily replaceable battery, Automation and done in seconds…

    1. Emily Merkle

      yuck.

  38. sachmo

    Elon is not a small time entrepreneur. He has raised hundreds of millions of dollars and can compete head to head against auto manufacturers. For small time entrepreneurs with hardware ideas, there is *nothing* other than patents that prevent competitors from reverse engineering and releasing an identical device.For medical device industry for example, patents are what create innovation. I could not disagree more with this post.

    1. Emily Merkle

      reverse engineering? what does that mean to you?

    2. Emily Merkle

      pharma patents create breathing room to capture marketshare and tool a tweak on v.1 to renew patent without complete research cycle, reaping exponentially greater fiscal benefits and, and expand marketshare.

  39. ansalhub2

    Ansal housing launched commercial project Ansal Hub II in sector 83 gurgaon. ANsal hub 2 offering you retail shops on ground, first, second and third floor with possession linked plan (PLP).

  40. Richard Reisman

    Fred, you seem to be reading more into Musk’s move than his statement warrants. He rightly criticizes the problems with current patent enforcement options and gives a nod to open source.But he is just using his patents in one of the three ways outlined in the Forbes postat http://www.forbes.com/sites… — licensing to create a standard — one that is crucial to the success of Tesla.We need less binary thinking about complex issues likes patents and innovation and more attention to finding better ways to properly incentivize inventors.Having novel and non-obvious ideas and teaching them, as the patent system requires, most certainly is innovation, and has been recognized as such for centuries. Stealing those ideas to make something and put it into the market (while denying any credit to the inventor) is still a ripoff, even if it is a commercially important ripoff.I suggest the real patent reform is to create a better system for broad licensing at fair rates based on the value the patent adds — making patents more liquid — instead of our very illiquid system of costly and inefficient litigation.

    1. Emily Merkle

      Musk clearly outlines the three traditional methodologies of patent deployment, and the actual ramifications of each. The strongest case is the open source option. We are far past the idea-sharing of the Edison-era; this is the digital age; the age of groundbreaking markets. Game is changing. So too are the “rules” that are simply not applicable in this environment. Embrace the horror.

  41. Jose Ali Vivas

    I also tweet the @elonmusk post. It’s by far phenomenal. A very bold move. My suggestion? Start a kind of GitHub for electric cars with Tesla Motors patents. I just have a pre-draft to initiate. How to start? First in a very voluntary fashion. No money involved for now. We have the opportunity to use Kickstarter platform to build the very first Web App version of all the documentation [ it’s not a trivial task! but all the cars has a framework] and with this we can build the very first “GitHub” for Open Motors. We can build this very simple. The result? A very huge opportunity for everyone. In these platform you can design, build an send the order to allow others to help – build components for you- in a very powerful ecosystem. I feel these idea is a natural “analytical continuation” of @elonmsuk initiative.

  42. Maxrevz

    Elon’s move is not patent reform related. It is a business strategy and Tesla’s choice as they own the IP.Whether you love, or hate tech patents they’re not likely going away. Running a startup without an IP strategy is like jumping off of a cliff and hoping to acquire a parachute on the way down. Don’t listen to the patent reform rhetoric, it’s a waste of time.Violators have made a mess of the patent system. They ignore patent rights and lobby Washington to change laws in ways that serve their needs while negatively impacting small innovators. Actions of a few powerful violators and our illustrious leaders in Washington have diluted the incentive for small inventors to leverage the patent system. Less public disclosure of inventions means less subject matter to build on and generate new innovation. This actually stifles innovation in the long run. As technology patent coverage matures and becomes more incremental in nature as it is now, we will need to find ways to draw small disruptive innovators back into the fold. Otherwise, we will loose our innovative edge globally. The patent system was designed for this purpose.

  43. Maxrevz

    Richard Reisman is correct, “Stealing those ideas to make something and put it into the market (while denying any credit to the inventor) is still a ripoff…” Apparently it hasn’t occurred to many people in tech. that if the violators didn’t ignore IP rights and meddle with the system as they have, via Washington, small inventors wouldn’t be forced to sell their IP to Trolls in the first place. The concept of “Troll” is pure marketing dribble designed to distract laypersons from the facts.The patent system has not treated me fairly. Still, I’ve learned to respect it. I understand it’s core purpose and how it has been manipulated in illogical, inappropriate and damaging ways by big business agendas. Areas of law “manipulated” include, Four Factor Rule (compulsory license), Joint-Divided infringement (removal of Mastermind test prior to clarifying law), Case, or controversy under U.S. Constitution (Licensing discussions can now trigger DJ action), and KSR (Obviousness, which nobody understands, least of al the PTO). The result of these cases: large violators win, small innovators loose and the cost of litigation has gone through the roof. This has diluted the incentive for small (disruptive) inventors to leverage the patent system. While this is what the violators want, it is a massive mistake. It is anti-innovation, period.Ironically the “manipulation” has made the system stronger. Patent claims are now issuing in ways that violators cant simply wiggle out of – hence the recent acquisitions of Motorola by Google and the Rockstar Nortel deal (including Microsoft and friends). Whatever happens next one thing is certain, gross violators have been running the show and this must change.

  44. John Revay

    Good point – I forgot about the battery plant he is building

  45. johndodds

    I’ve long thought of them as a battery company with a car division.