Nikola sues Tesla over patent infringement for Semi

Alicia Cross
May 3, 2018

On Tuesday, zero-emissions truck startup Nikola Motor Company sued Tesla for allegedly infringing on its design patents.

The Utah-based Nikola, which shares a namesake with the California automaker founded by Elon Musk, claims that Tesla's electric semi infringes its U.S. Patent Nos.

Now as to the patents at issue, the suit cites six design patents which cover Nikola's wrap-around windshield, a mid-entry door, along with design patents that encompass the fuselage, fender, side cladding, and "the overall design of a semi". The damage from this alleged infringement, per Nikola's calculations, is "in excess of $2 billion".

Tesla, meanwhile, denies all claims in the lawsuit. Upon information and belief, Tesla does not have any patents protecting the design of its semi truck and has not filed any applications for design patent protection. Seventy-two days after the Nikola truck design was released, Musk announced that Tesla was in the "early stages" of developing a semi.

Nikola's vehicles use a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electricity to power their electric motors for up to 1,200 miles between fill-ups, while the battery-powered Tesla is being offered in two versions, with ranges of 300 miles and 500 miles. Nikola says in the lawsuit that Tesla never responded.

Nikola is now based in Salt Lake City, Utah, but it's planning to move its headquarters to Phoenix, Arizona, in July.

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Nikola filed a series of design patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office in December 2015 covering an electric heavy-duty truck.

The lawsuit, filed in Arizona, follows a cease-and-desist letter from Nikola to Tesla in November a year ago, pointing out similar features, including a wraparound windshield, mid-entry door and aerodynamic fuselage.

"This corresponded to a jump of roughly $2 billion in Tesla's market value", the complaint states.

Nikola said that by August 2016 it had received orders for more than 7,000 of the trucks, totalling $2.3 billion. "Further, any problems with the Tesla Semi will be attributed to the Nikola One, causing hart to the Nikola brand", reads a statement from Nikola's court filing.

In January, Nikola announced it would build a $1-billion factory in Arizona, where it plans to manufacture its trucks, none of which are on the road yet.

Neither Nikola nor Tesla has delivered a semi truck to a customer yet.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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