As we all know, ideas do not appear out of nowhere. The products/services we have today arises from combinations of different ideas. The generation of a new idea today leads to more ideas that could be created in future. Innovation prospers, as people connect and recombine existing ideas into newer and better ideas that can change or improve their lives. However, people have been putting restrictions (e.g. having trade secrets, putting patents/IPs) on their ideas. This seems to be an ironic case because if restrictions are built, it inhibits innovation.
Mr. Musk, the CEO of Tesla, seemed to understand this ideology where he mentioned that the sharing of patents could help to speed up the process of innovation and create more opportunities for Tesla in the electric car market. However, some investors were not exactly happy as they felt patents were assets of the company.
Personally, I felt that the release of patents could be a smart move for Tesla.
1. Tesla could no longer rely on their patents to survive in the market. This forces the company to innovate continuously instead of being complacent. With disruptive innovation occurring at an unprecedented speed, this is important for Tesla if they want to survive in the market.
2. By releasing patents to the outside world, anyone could improve or modify Tesla’s existing design. As more companies enter the electric car industry, newer and better infrastructure might be setup to support the adoption of electric cars. This will provide more opportunities for Tesla to grow their business which may mean good news for them.
3. Also, having patents may introduce lots of lawsuits and cost Tesla lots of lawyer cost and time. By releasing patents free for all, it will save Tesla lots of trouble and allow them to devote more time/money on R&D for the company.
Despite so, the effects of whether releasing patents for public use is beneficial for society can only be seen in the near future. However, companies like Toyota is also following Tesla’s footsteps by intending to release its patents related to fuel cell technology.