‘Eliminating’ competition

Back in 2015, Tesla pledged that it will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use their technology.

In other words, Tesla’s patents are open and available for other people to copy, in the same manner as open source code. Why would they do that? Isn’t that the anti-thesis of intellectual property rights?

Being profit driven ahead of purpose driven puts you into a zero-sum, winner-take-all thinking mode. If all the profits within an industry were a pie, the profit driven mentality drives one to grab as much of that pie for oneself as possible. To be driven by purpose is to increase the size of that pie.

Say the market for electric vehicles is about $ 50 billion. Profit driven firms seek to corner as much of that market as possible. A firm whose primary purpose is to make e-mobility ubiquitous will work towards growing this market from $50 to $500 billion. Any other company that helps them expand this pie isn’t a rival, but a partner.

In Elon Musk’s words:

‘Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.’

Competition exists only in a zero-sum world motivated by profits. If you’re purpose driven, you can ‘eliminate’ competition by recruiting them as collaborators instead.

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