Tesla sued for $2 billion by hydrogen truck startup over alleged patent infringement

Photo: Nikola Motor Company
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Nikola Motor Company has filed a lawsuit in Arizona alleging that Tesla’s all-electric Semi infringes on the hydrogen truck startup’s patents. The lawsuit claims Tesla willfully copied these patents in creating its electric truck, and Nikola is seeking $2 billion in damages in return.

“It’s patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit,” a spokesperson for Tesla told The Verge. A representative for Nikola Motors said in a statement to The Verge that “[w]e are not commenting because it is in the courts. The lawsuit speaks for itself.”

Nikola was founded in 2014, and the company showed off its first two products — an electric four-wheel offroad vehicle and a hydrogen-electric semi truck — in May 2016. It has since added a second semi truck to its eventual lineup, teased some all-electric personal watercraft, and announced plans for a $1 billion factory in Arizona.

The complaint filed by Nikola lays out a number of claims that, viewed together, the company says prove Tesla cribbed from the startup’s patents. Nikola points to supposed similarities in the trucks’ front fenders, wraparound windshields, mid-entry doors, aerodynamic fuselage (with similar drag coefficients), and more as evidence that Tesla copied its design. It also claims that a recruiter for Tesla, Aaron Hoyos, tried to poach Nikola’s chief engineer just a few months after the startup unveiled its hydrogen semi truck, and that this is evidence that Tesla was aware of Nikola’s unique design features.

Additionally, Nikola says it was able to identify that Tesla’s truck might be infringing on its designs from spy shots that littered the internet in the weeks leading up to Tesla’s mid-November 2017 reveal. The startup says it sent a cease and desist letter (which is included as an exhibit in the lawsuit) to Tesla on November 7th asking the company to delay its announcement until the issue was resolved, but that Tesla never responded.

Nikola says that Tesla’s truck is causing “confusion in the market,” and claims that “Tesla’s infringement has harmed Nikola’s ability to attract investors and partners because investors can now partner with Tesla to have an alternative fuel semi-truck.” The damage from this alleged infringement, per Nikola’s calculations, is “in excess of $2 billion.”

Nikola has sparred with Tesla before, including how it chose to use the first name of the same famous investor when founding the company. Most recently, Nikola claimed in April that, while it has over $8 billion in preorders for the different versions of its semi trucks, all those reservations will “be refunded 100%” and the startup “won’t use your money to operate our business” — statements that appear to be obvious barbs at Tesla, which holds nearly $1 billion in customer deposits for the Model 3 and other various announced products, according to recent filings.

Nikola Corporation v Tesla truck patent lawsuit by Anonymous ohKLS5K on Scribd

Comments

Nikola Motor Company

Are you fucking kidding with this?

Nikola has sparred with Tesla before, including how it chose to use the first name of the same famous investor when founding the company.

Is that you Elon?

I literally laughed out loud reading their name lol.

When you can’t beat them…sue them.

So basically, they sued Tesla because of their truck look similar? Oh…jeez
Tesla should sue back on that "Nikola" name.

Mazda should sue Tesla too, the cars look similar. And Rolls Royce should sue Chrysler. Using their logic anyway.

That’s the thing, though. I don;t think you can patent designs like that. Trademark maybe, but not patent.
Fun fact: Tesla’s Chief Designer (Franz von Holzhausen) previously worked for Mazda, which might explain the resemblance you picked up on.

No, you can. It’s called a design patent. Look at the first page of the complaint and it has the patent number. Design patents have a letter D in front, as opposed to utility patents which are just numbers.

Design patents are judged much more strictly than utility patents. You have to almost literally copy the patented design (see Apple’s suit against Sammy on design) to win, so there is probably a fart in hell chance of Nikola winning. The damage is also lols, this lawsuit is basically a publicity stunt.

I’m just pointing out that it would be dumb if you could sue over minor similarities.

"Tesla’s infringement has harmed Nikola’s ability to attract investors and partners because investors can now partner with Tesla to have an alternative fuel semi-truck."

If by "infringement" they mean "entry into the semi market", then sure. It’s called competition. You’re losing. Try harder. I disliked this company from the moment I first read about them.

They want $2 billion from Tesla so they can pocket $1 billion and spend the rest on a factory lol.

i don’t think they lose investor because of the design likeness, tbh the nikola one looks better but unfortunately uses hydrogen mixed fuel which is less convenient compare to full electricity

Eh. It might just be more familiar. It looks more like a traditional truck with it’s grille and narrower windshield. Tesla wants you to know theirs is a Tesla.
Honestly, apart from the "wraparound windshield" the trucks don’t really look all that similar.

The best comparison I can make here would be CaliBurger trying to sue In-N-Out.

Stupid posers trying to sue a classic, their burgers are way too greasy and salty which need to rely on gimmicky robots to attract people.

I gotta feeling the whole "Nikola" company is a set-up by someone who wants to annoy the hell out of Tesla and Musk.

They probably have the biggest Tesla short ever lol

How much is the company worth?
It’s only logical for Tesla to buy it and become Nikola Tesla Co.

If we’ve learned anything from T-Mobile and Sprint, that is now called a "merger."

They call themselves Nikola and then claim Tesla is stealing from them?!

[…] it chose to use the first name of the same famous investor when founding the company.

Inventor, no?

I was thinking the same thing. Don’t recall him being known for his investments.

Was Nikola Tesla shorting Tesla too?

I think he’d start Nikola Tesla and all three companies would just duke it out.

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