Tesla head Elon Musk's 'high-risk' patent gamble

Tesla head Elon Musk poses in one of his electric cars. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tesla head Elon Musk says his company will not "lay intellectual property landmines"

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On Thursday Tesla head Elon Musk announced his company will not enforce the patents it holds on electric car technology.

"Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport," he writes on his company's blog. "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."

He concludes:

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world's most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open-source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla's position in this regard.

This is potentially revolutionary logic, writes Techdirt's Mike Masnick. Mr Musk understands that "having more viable competitors can also enlarge the overall market".

"If a company like Tesla has no viable competitors, they're left educating the market and building all the infrastructure themselves - and that's pure cost," he writes. "Opening up their patents actually helps Tesla in the long run by (hopefully) spreading out some of those costs, and increasing the size of the overall market."

He says he wishes the heads of other companies were as open-minded as Mr Musk:

Unlike so many other companies and company leaders, Musk appears to recognise the simple fact that innovation is not in how many patents you get, it's in how you actually build amazing products and services that people want - and patents can often get in the way of that, rather than help it.

The Verge's Ben Popper writes that while Mr Musk framed the move in moral terms, it's a "self-interested business move as well: a high-risk, high-reward gamble that could vault Tesla to the next level or eat away at the small advantage it currently has".

Tesla shares rose as word spread of Mr Musk's actions - and are up 36% so far this year.


A carbon tax that isn't hurting - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is ending his nation's carbon tax because he says it is "clobbering the economy".

In reality, writes Bloomberg View's Christopher Flavelle, the tax isn't responsible for Australia's flagging economy, but it has succeeded in lowering the nation's carbon emissions.

A "waning resource boom" is the culprit, he says, and the tax had only a very limited impact on inflation and electricity rates.

"So when Tony Abbott says that limiting carbon is bad for the economy, be sceptical," he writes. "What he really means is that opposing a carbon tax makes for better politics than supporting one."


Keep Hagia Sophia a museum not a mosque - The Hagia Sophia, once an Orthodox church and then a mosque, "has been a symbol of power since the times of Byzantium", writes Karin Karakasli for Radikal (translated by WorldCrunch).

This explains, she says, why a popular movement is under way to convert the building from its current state as a museum and tourist destination into a working mosque once again.

"Hagia Sophia always has been a defining symbol for political Islamic movements to score votes and boost reputations," she writes. "There is the illusion that reopening the place as a mosque would amount to a return to the glory of the days of the Ottoman Empire."

Turkish officials should resist this urge, she says, and allow the building to remain a place whose "universal pleasures that may be tasted by any given individual".


A looming genocide - For decades the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar has been denied citizenship, says Katherine G Southwick of the Truman National Security Project, and "have suffered from discrimination, forced labour and campaigns of violence".

More than 230,000 refugees have spent the last 30 years in "squalid camps," she writes for Talking Points Memo, where they are abused and neglected. The "global silence" on their plight, she says, is unconscionable.

The "dehumanising rhetoric, unpunished physical attacks, crowding a minority into unprotected camps" employed by the majority Buddhists is edging toward genocide, she concludes.

Western nations must become involved and convince the Myanmar leaders that economic progress, global investment and stability won't be possible if the Rohingya atrocities are not addressed.


Anti-prostitution law could end adult adverts - A proposed law that would forbid adult advertising anywhere a minor could see it is an "assault on the free press that we haven't seen in a long time", writes Justin Ling in the National Post.

He says the vague, contradictory law would end a lucrative income source for print publications at a time when reliable revenues streams are already disappearing.

He argues that it's about more than just money, however. Publishers and newspapers will be open to prosecution and sex workers could be forced onto the streets to ply their trade.

"Government has no business wiggling its dirty fingers into the newspapers of the nation," he says.

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Regional commentators react to the Sunni militant uprisingled by forces aligned with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

"Decoding Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's televised speech as he appeared on screen with quite a few members of the Iraqi cabinet, one could clearly see that he was not emotional enough and that he made no impact with his speech which sounded more like an ordinary statement... Mr Maliki's statement failed to galvanise or mobilize the public." - Khudayr Miri in Iraq's Al-Dustur.

"Had we been in a country where the state shows respect for the people, we would have had Mr Maliki and his military team immediately put on military trial." - Fakhri Karim in Iraq's Al-Mada.

"It is difficult to know where the ISIS advance will stop and which result it will have. The region is based on sensitive balances. There is no doubt that every single development will affect Turkey deeply... It is time to think about where we made a mistake and undergo self-criticism. The winds of the past are turning into thunder now." - Mustafa Unal in Turkey's Zaman.

"Now it is possible that a common interest has been created for the Americans and the Iranians. The last thing Iran wants on its western border is a Sunni Sharia state from the school of [Osama] Bin Laden. The United States has no interest in this either… From the Israeli point of view, Israel should continue to strengthen Jordan. The survival of the Hashemite royal house is a supreme Israeli interest." - Amos Harel in Israel's Ha'aretz.

"The least one can say about Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's [speech] yesterday in which he said that a standby army should be born in Iraq is that he was admitting defeat. Defending the country and the people, any country in the world, cannot be done retroactively." - Editorial in Saudi Arabia's Al-Watan.

"The Iraqi people have today found themselves stranded between terrorist organisations or armed extremists and sectarian militias personally supported by the Iraqi prime minister… In the end, all these crimes committed by Maliki's sectarian government cannot pass without the Iraqi people prosecuting him even if it takes forever." - Editorial in pan-Arab Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

"The growth of terrorism and the rise of its power in the region is one of the most prominent US achievements to result from America's occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq where al-Qaeda found a suitable environment to attract hundreds of thousands of extremists with financial, military and political support from countries, media outlets, governmental and non-governmental organisations, all with American blessings manifested in the disbanding of the Iraqi army" - Muhi al-Din al-Muhammad in Syria's Tishrin.

"Some say that large numbers of Baathists are hiding behind this religious group [ISIS] and that [Saddam Hussein's Vice-president] Izzat al-Duri is the strategic leadership of this group. It makes sense because how would the regime's army withdraw in Mosul without a fight had there not been deals made with its officers?" - Tariq Masarwah in Jordan's Al-Ra'y.

"The question is how the Iraqi army, with all its equipment, has turned out to be unable to fight one terrorist group? Most [political observers] believe that the remnants of Baathists and supporters of Saddam's still have power and influence in the army." - Mohammad Hoseyn Ja'farian in Iran's Qods.

"The flames that raged in Mosul and the terror that struck its residents signal the arrival of the new Mongols." - Hisham Milhim in Lebanon's Al-Nahar.

"It seems that those in power in Iraq have underestimated the confrontation they have been dragged into… They were not expecting ISIS leadership to be eying oilfields in Nineveh and Kirkuk, and they were not smart enough to realise that the seizure of these oilfields would alter the view on the 'New Middle East' whereby no one will be safe." - Editorial in Oman's Al-Watan.‎

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.

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