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Why Elon Musk says ‘patents are for the weak’

The list of things that interest Elon Musk ranges from space travel to easing Los Angeles’ infamous traffic.

One thing that doesn’t make the cut? Patents.

The 50-year-old entrepreneur recently appeared on the CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage” to give the former “Tonight Show” host a tour around the SpaceX Starbase facility in Texas.

During the tour, Leno asked if SpaceX had a patent on the material used to build its ships. Musk replied that his spacecraft manufacturer “[doesn’t] really patent things.”

“I don’t care about patents,” Musk told Leno. “Patents are for the weak.”

In Musk’s opinion, patents are “generally used as a blocking technique” that are designed to prevent others from innovating.

“They’re used like landmines in warfare,” he says. “They don’t actually help advance things, they just stop others from following you.”

It’s not the first time Musk has spoken out against patents. In a 2014 memo to Tesla employees Musk said that it was his company’s ability “to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers,” not its patents, that would make it a success.

“[Patents] serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors,” he wrote at the time.

The legal page on Tesla’s website includes a pledge that the company “will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use its technology.”

All-new episodes of “Jay Leno’s Garage” air Wednesdays at 10pm ET on CNBC.

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