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Tesla boss Elon Musk has announced that the electric car company is opening up its patent portfolio for use by rival carmaking firms.

The PayPal/SpaceX/Tesla tycoon said that the firm will make its patent holdings available to others and will not file suit against companies who use its patented technology in what Musk terms "good faith."

"Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport," Musk said when announcing the company's new policy.

"If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles," he said, "but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal."

The goal of the move, said Musk, is to encourage other companies, particularly larger automakers, to pursue electric vehicles. He said that Tesla executives had previously feared larger automakers would copy Tesla technology then push the company out of business, the firm has instead found itself alone in the market.

"We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: 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 per cent of their total vehicle sales.

"At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all."

Tesla's move should come as a breath of fresh air to those who have grown sick of the barrage of infringement suits from "patent troll" firms who exist solely to purchase and license intellectual property to other companies, or the large firms such as Apple and Samsung who continue to bicker over patent-infringement claims.

The move could also be part of a bid by Tesla to bring the public around on electric cars. The company has faced an uphill battle in the market, due in part to competition from other automakers and government regulations, which have limited the company's access to some markets.

Multiple US states have restricted Tesla's direct-sales model, citing laws that require automakers to distribute through third-party dealerships. ®

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