Tesla sues supercapacitor company over patent infringement, despite open patent pledge

Tesla is suing a supercapacitor company in Australia for patent infringement, despite the automaker’s pledge that “all our patents are belong to you.”

But Tesla’s pledge to open its patents came with a very important requirement that this company didn’t respect.

In a now-famous blog post called “All Our Patent Are Belong To You,” Elon Musk announced that Tesla is open-sourcing all its patents in 2014.

It was a surprising move coming from a publicly traded automaker, but it came with some requirements that made this a smart business move.

Rather than traditionally open-sourcing its technology, Tesla instead pledged to “not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use its technology.”

More specifically, Tesla meant by “good faith” that anyone using its patented technology cannot sue Tesla for patent infringement. This made the offer significantly less attractive to companies as it meant that if it used Tesla’s technology, it would open the door for Tesla to use theirs since they wouldn’t be able to sue them.

Nonetheless, some companies were believed to have taken Tesla up on the offer. While Tesla has sued other companies over claims to have stolen trade secrets in the past, it hasn’t gotten into patent infringement lawsuits until now.

Last week, Tesla filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Texas federal court against Australia’s Cap XX, a supercapacitor company.

The automaker claims that Cap XX infringes on some patented electrode technology used in supercapacitors – a technology that Tesla has acquired through its acquisition of Maxwell.

Tesla wrote in the lawsuit (via Reuters):

Maxwell has a history of innovation that has resulted in its own patents, now assigned to Tesla, and thus Tesla brings this suit against Cap-XX to protect its intellectual property rights.

But why is Tesla suing if it pledged not to? Tesla says that the legal action is “in response” to Cap XX having filed a patent infringement claim against Tesla’s Maxwell back in 2019.

That’s in line with Tesla’s patent pledge. Cap XX’s lawsuit is still ongoing in Delaware federal court. In the new lawsuit, Tesla is asking the court for an unspecified amount of money in damages.

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