Energy: IP vs. OSD

Elon Musk is one to make unprecedented decisions, but he certainly caught the US and car manufacturers by surprise when he announced that “all our patent are belong to you” (Musk). This was an announcement that Tesla would be allowing, even encouraging, its designs to be copied by others in the hopes that electric vehicles can become cheaper and more widespread. Interestingly, Musk details how he used to believe that patents were necessary and now sees them as barriers to entry. Some fired back and said that Musk’s decision was selfish and sure, in a way it was. (Aren’t all companies selfish and just trying to make a profit?) He wants others to make Tesla’s designs better and improve upon them but this does not only benefit Tesla. This open source platform that Tesla is opting for over intellectual property will benefit the greater good as well. Cheap electric vehicles that can be widely produced helps the greater population as well as the environment. Energy efficiency is a crucial goal and open source will help us achieve it faster than IP.


However, this isn’t an unprecedented decision for other places such as Denmark. When Denmark needed an alternative to oil, it looked to wing energy. But the designs were never patented. They believed:


“that energy from the wind and the sun belonged to us all, and therefore, the knowledge to harvest renewable energies should be part of the heritage of mankind” (Maegaard).


Because of the open source nature of the wind mill design, it quickly evolved from a one-blade to the three-blade design, which is common today. Denmark’s wind industry can be sharply contrasted with the US’ solar industry. NASA kept a lock on solar technology and even though solar panels have become more prevalent, they are not a common source of energy in the US.


Though the full effects of climate change and non-renewable energies are not yet seen, finding sustainable energy is an urgent goal, which can more quickly be achieved on an open source platform.



Header photo:

“All Our Patent Are Belong to You:” Musk, Elon. “All Our Patent Are Belong To You.” Tesla. N.p., 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

Denmark Wind: Maegaard, Preben, Anna Krenz, and Wolfgang Palz. Wind Power for the World: The Rise of Modern Wind Energy. Singapore: Pan Stanford, 2013. June 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.


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