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In Patent Dispute, Tesla Plays Offense

Publication Date: 
July 13, 2013
The Recorder
Chelsea Allison

Professor Mark Lemley spoke with Chelsea Allison of The Recorder about Tesla Motors' use of in-house lawyers and the risk involved with this strategy.

In-house lawyers at Silicon Valley darling Tesla Motors Inc. have taken a bold stance against patent infringement claims.

Rather than wait to be sued — and apparently without a general counsel in place — Tesla filed a complaint for declaratory judgment after receiving a demand letter from Los Angeles patent holder pointSET.


According to a recent analysis by Mark Lemley, director of Stanford Law School's Program in Law, Science and Technology, declaratory judgment actions aren't totally uncommon, as they represent about 7 to 8 percent of all patent suits. But, he said in an email, "Relying on in-house counsel is a lot less common, and a much riskier strategy."