Recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that his company is opening up all of its patents to other innovators in the “advancement of electric vehicle technology.” As long as these companies use the technology in good faith, Tesla will not initiate any patent lawsuits.
As a startup making a new product this struck a chord. We at Propared have had loads of internal discussions about intellectual property and the copying of ideas. What should we do? What will be our best path forward?
Should we file for patents or trademarks? Should we keep our cards close to our vest until launch? Or should we throw open our doors in support of, as Mr. Musk terms it, “the open source movement?” We even consulted with a patent lawyer along the way.
It turns out, filing for patents only gives us the “privilege” of pursuing expensive lawsuits (if our patents are ever infringed upon), ultimately accomplishing nothing other than distracting us from what we really want to do with our lives.
In the end, we decided not to worry about it for three reasons.
First, being secretive about what we’re doing stifles contributions from everyone. When we set out to build Propared we knew what we knew. And we knew a lot. We spent a great many years among us clawing our way to where we are today and we have amassed some amazing stories, ideas, and experience. But we also knew that we had much to learn. Despite the similar needs that we share as managers of live events, there are many types of projects out there and many ways of working on them. Not just that, there are entire sectors of our industry that we have yet to fully appreciate! The only way to learn is to share what we think we know already and continue to grow by way of the perspectives and feedback of others.
Second, it’s very difficult to generate interest about a new product without sharing details about it. How will you know that Propared is going to revolutionize your work-flow if we don’t show you the process? Sure, we could be secretive, shut the factory doors, and then one day, out of the blue, release five golden tickets to five lucky individuals. That might work for a well-established (albeit fictional) candy company. But we are still in the “getting-to-know-you” phase of our business. It would be awfully presumptuous and frankly annoying if we just expected you to “take our word for it.”
Finally and most importantly, Propared’s goal is and has always been to set a new standard for management and communication among live event professionals. We are working together to make our industry a stronger, sustainable, and ultimately more enjoyable home. Sure, at the end of the day we all need to earn a living, but profit does not drive our decisions. I founded Propared with the same mindset that prompted me to form Tinc Productions:
Do what you believe in and everything else will take care of itself.
This is why we have shared so much with you at such an early stage of our development process and why we will continue to do so at every step. It’s gratifying to see such a powerful innovator and entrepreneur reach the same conclusion.