Elon Musk Says Patents Are for the ‘Weak,’ and Block Innovation

  • Elon Musk told CNBC that patents are “for the weak” and SpaceX doesn’t really have them.
  • Patents can be used to block other companies from innovating, according to Musk.
  • He told CNBC during a factory tour that rocket engines were built by the company in California.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has once again spoken out against the use of patents, explaining that the company generally continues to avoid using them.

In an interview with CNBC, which aired on Wednesday evening, Musk said that using patents in manufacturing is a sign of weakness.

Musk took TV host Jay Leno on a tour around SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Texas, showing him some of the company’s Raptor engines, which are designed to fit the Starship spacecraft. He said the engines were built by SpaceX in California.

It’s not the first time the billionaire has criticized the use of patents. In an interview with Wired in 2012, he said that SpaceX has “essentially no patents.” He added that it would be “farcical” if the company published its patents “because the Chinese would just use them as a recipe book.”

In a Tesla conference call eight years ago, Musk said patents were a sign that a company was failing to innovate fast enough.

Musk said in the CNBC interview that SpaceX used strong stainless steel to make the rocket. In response to a question about whether the company had patents for the material, Musk said no.

SpaceX doesn’t “really patent things,” he told the outlet. “Patents are for the weak.”

Musk said in the interview that patents were normally used as a “blocking technique” and prevented other companies from progressing. “They just stop others from following you,” he told Leno during the tour. “Most patents are bs.”

His most recent comments about patents come at a time when SpaceX inches ever closer to launching its huge Starship spacecraft. Musk tweeted on Wednesday that it was “highly likely” the vehicle would launch in November.

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