Patents are Like Love: The More You Give, the More You Get

By Shlomo Maital

 Elon Musk

Elon Musk

   Some innovations change the way people think about doing business.  Elon Musk, a great innovator (co-founder of Paypal, founder of Tessla,  Space-X….etc.) has just announced that he is “opening the books” for all the patents related to Tessla and his electric car technology.  Meaning?   Anyone who wishes can use the technology he and his company created, free of charge.

   What in the world? What happened to the assumption that if you create IP, intellectual property, then you have the right, nay the duty, to make huge profits from it? 

    And is this philanthropy?  Or shrewd business strategy?

    It is the latter.   Musk wants to build Tessla.  To do so, he wants the established big car companies, the ones who proved unable to develop truly great electric cars,  to adopt his technology.

   If they do, then Tessla becomes the first, the authentic, the real thing.   And the way to make that happen is to offer the technology free of charge, and – reap the benefits indirectly.   And I am convinced, the indirect benefits to Musk and Tessla will be enormous, far bigger than any royalties.

     We learn from Elon Musk that innovation is breaking the rules intelligently. Find a rule, e.g. patent everything that breathes,  and see if you can break it, for your own advantage and the advantage of the world. 

    Are patents indeed like love – the more you give it away, the more you have?