Over two years ago, Tesla open-sourced all its patents for electric vehicles – a surprising announcement in our IP-centric business climate. CEO Elon Musk explained the move as being in line with Tesla’s mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport:
“If we’re all in a ship together and the ship has some holes in it, and we’re sort of bailing water out of it, and we have a great design for a bucket, then even if we’re bailing out way better than everyone else, we should probably still share the bucket design.”
We might get access to yet another bucket design thanks to Proterra, a leading manufacturer of all-electric buses. The bus maker announced today that it will be opening its proprietary “on-route fast-charging technology” on a royalty-free basis.
In a phrasing reminiscent of what Tesla used in its own announcement, Proterra issued a statement explaining that the move was ” to accelerate widespread EV technology adoption and infrastructure development”.
Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra, commented on the announcement:
“At Proterra, we’re focused on designing and manufacturing the safest, highest-performing EV transit solutions on the market, but we’re also determined to enhance and expand the sector as a whole. We believe that everyone benefits from open platforms and greater customer choice. We hope that this decision will encourage even more transit agencies to bring clean, quiet, emission-free vehicles to our city streets and community roadways.”
The company says that its single-blade overhead fast-charge system is the “most utilized on-route charging technology in the industry.” The system can charge a bus on stops while it’s on-route. Here’s a quick video on how the system works:
Proterra also announced that it plans to start producing the system for third -party vehicles, indicating that company is looking to make the method a standard, which would make the move not completely altruistic, but still interesting.
Its patent pledge (See in full below) covers the three patents describing the technology. The latest patent was issued just a few weeks ago.
Proterra promises to any person or entity (a “Pledge Recipient”) that it will not bring a lawsuit, or other legal proceeding, against a Pledge Recipient for infringement of a Pledged Patent if the Pledge Recipient is applying a Pledged Patent to Single Blade Technology.
It is Proterra’s intent that the Pledge be legally binding, irrevocable (except as otherwise provided under “Defensive Termination” below) and enforceable against Proterra and entities controlled by Proterra, and their successors and assigns. Thus, Proterra will require any person or entity to whom it sells or transfers any of the Pledged Patents to agree, in writing, to abide by the Pledge and to place a similar requirement on any subsequent transferees to do the same.
The Pledge is not an assurance that any of the Pledged Patents (a) cover any of Proterra’s technology, (b) are enforceable, (c) that any activities covered by the Pledge will not infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of a third party, or (d) that Proterra will add any other patents to the list of Pledged Patents. Except as expressly stated in the Pledge, no other rights are waived or granted by Proterra or received by a Pledge Recipient, whether by implication, estoppel, or otherwise.
When Tesla open-sourced its patents, the company updated its patent wall in the coolest way possible:
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