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Tesla opening patents with goal of expanding electric car market

Tesla chief Elon Musk said June 12, 2014,

Tesla chief Elon Musk said June 12, 2014, that he is opening patents on his company's electric cars to encourage development. This photo is from June 19, 2013. Credit: AP

Elon Musk, Tesla Motors Inc.’s outspoken co-founder and chief executive, said the maker of Model S electric sedans is making all its patents public in a bid to expand drivers’ adoption of battery-powered autos.

The carmaker won’t initiate patent suits against “anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology,” Musk said on the Palo Alto, California-based company’s website Thursday. At Tesla’s June 3 annual meeting, Musk said too few automakers offer “serious” electric vehicles and pledged to do something about it.

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” he said. “If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property land mines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal.”

Tesla, poised to begin developing as many as three sites for a proposed $5 billion battery “gigafactory,” set a goal in 2006 of being a catalyst to move the auto industry from petroleum to electricity in order to power vehicles. While the company intends to boost deliveries of its $71,000 Model S sedan by more than 56 percent this year, it remains far from Musk’s goal of selling hundreds of thousands of vehicles annually.

Tesla has collaborated with major carmakers on electric cars, supplying battery packs and motors for Toyota Motor Corp. and Daimler AG vehicles. Both companies also hold stakes in Tesla.

The automaker has more than 160 issued patents for things like a system to protect battery packs from overcharging and an improved rotor construction in an electric motor, according to the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Some of its more recent publicly available patent applications relate to computer-user interfaces and a port to allow for emergency maintenance of a high-energy battery pack.

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