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Comment Re:Trust but verify (Score 1) 211

Why? There's a legal concept called "promissory estoppel". In a nutshell, it means that if I make you a promise and you, in good faith, depend upon that promise and build your business on it, and I knew or should have known that you were going to do so, then I can't later change my mind, withdraw my promise and sue you for doing what I said you could do.

Disclaimer: IANAL
Yes, it appears that "promissory estoppel" can create an implied contract, but it's not at all clear to me that a press release meets the standard. More to the point, "promissory estoppel" appears to be situational - not absolute. And you can bet Tesla's lawyers know that - hence the weaseling "in good faith" and "in the spirit of open source" (without actually specifying what that means or which license applies).

In the end, I suspect the OP is correct - without a signed and sealed contract or other appropriate and valid legal instrument... nobody with any sense and/or a half decent lawyer will depend on a press release and Tesla/Musk's continued good intentions as a legal defense against infringement. Particularly this applies to the big automakers or any real money investing in a smaller automaker. This is an impressive publicity stunt, and it will impress the impressionable and the fanboys, but without the proper legal backing that's all it is. The fanboys will use this press release to bitch and complain about the Big Automakers - and will never clearly understand how neatly they've been played. (To my mind, given that Tesla and SpaceX are still both essentially startups skating on thin financial ice, it's an open question as to Musk's acumen as a businessman. But one thing there's no question about to me, in the last few years Musk has emerged as a master manipulator of public opinion.)

Comment Re:Trust but verify (Score 2) 211

I don't know of any challenges, but the principle in question seems nearly identical to the copyleft notion underlying the GPL -- a notion that went untested in court for a very long time because, basically, every attorney that looked at it decided it wasn't worth fighting. As for whether an assignee is obligated to honor the license, I can't see how they could possibly avoid it, particularly if the license states that it's irrevocable (excepting its exceptions). I'm not aware of any purchaser of a patent who has successfully argued that they can revoke a licensing commitment to a standards body, either. It seems to me that the precedent is rather firmly established.

Comment What bandwidth do you need? (Score 1) 172

The price of scopes goes up rapidly with bandwidth. 20MHz is cheap. 100MHz is more expensive. 1GHz and up is very expensive. Tektronix sells a 33GHz scope starting at $30K. That's the first question you have to ask. For kids doing Arduino-level elecronics, 20MHz is fine. None of the I/O goes faster than that. (If you want to look at Ethernet or digital video signals, you need far more bandwith, more than you can afford. Fortunately, today that stuff mostly works.

(Back in the 1990s, I was trying to build a LIDAR unit for a robot. The parts aren't expensive. The problem is that, when it didn't work right, I needed a high-bandwidth scope I didn't have to find out why.)

Comment Re:Here's yer free market, telco's (Score 1) 106

I'm in GA. My choices are only AT&T and Comcast; No Verizon, and the competing cable company doesn't service my area. I pay about $80/month just for internet, no cable TV. Sadly, even if Google decides to come here, it'll both take forever and probably not reach out to the area I live in. Comcast is about 5 times faster than AT&T. I'd use AT&T anyway, but we use Netflix (which now runs great on Comcast for some strange reason), and my son is online gaming at every free moment (except right now... we're watching world cup).

Comment Re:What about the shareholders? (Score 4, Insightful) 211

The plaintiffs would have to demonstrate how the company lost value by them doing that.

Also, if the articles of incorporation or the IPO documentation includes a statement indicating that increasing the use of electric vehicles is a corporate goal, alongside of, or even more important than, making money, then this move could be perfectly aligned with the stated corporate goals which the investors bought into, even if it can be proven that this move decreased share value.

Comment Re:Trust but verify (Score 3, Insightful) 211

There is a middle ground. They could issue a zero-cost, binding, globally-applicable patent license with an exception that withdraws the license from anyone who sues them. This is actually pretty common, and I think it would be a much better choice than placing the patents in the public domain.

I expect something like that will be forthcoming. So far all we have is a blog post; I imagine the more substantive version from the legal department is in progress.

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