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Tesla CEO Elon Musk just announced that Tesla is opening up the use of its patents to all car makers in an effort to advance the electric car industry across the board.

"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," Musk said in a blog post. "Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology." Musk said his company originally filed to patents to fight off large automakers who might otherwise try to "overwhelm" Tesla with larger marketing facilities and deeper marketing budgets.

"The unfortunate reality is the opposite," Musk said. "Electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn't burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales." Musk said he believes that allowing other automakers to use his patents will actually help strengthen the company's standing in the electric car market in the long term, and said that Tesla's real competition isn't other electric cars, but gas-guzzlers still on the market.

Over time we'll need to see exactly how Tesla and Musk define "in good faith," however. For now, though, this seems like a pretty stunning move by Tesla.