Brief: Nikola sues Tesla over semi patents

Jeannie Matthews
May 3, 2018

Now Nikola Motors has announced it is suing Tesla for $2 billion United States dollars in damages, alleging that Musk's company infringed on US patents received by Nikola for cab design features.

Nikola lays out a timeline and specifies how Tesla infringed upon its design and in the works electric semi-truck.

The Tesla truck copies the look of Nikola's windshield wrap, its fuselage, its mid-entry doors and its front.

In a complaint filed at the US District Court for the District of Arizona on 1 May, Nikola accused Tesla of copying its patent for an electric semi truck.

By Aug. 31, 2016, Nikola had 300 orders for more than 7,000 of its trucks with a total value of more than $2.3 billion. But two weeks later, when Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the semi truck, stock prices shot up from $302.99 to $315.05. In the same quarter previous year, Tesla reported a loss of $1.33 per share on sales of $2.7 billion. In the lawsuit, the Utah-based startup claims Tesla knowingly copied its patents when creating its all-electric semi-truck.

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In response to the lawsuits filing, a spokesperson for Tesla is reported to have rejected the claims being made.

Nikola is now moving its headquarters from Salt Lake City to Arizona, where it will spend $1 billion on a 1-million-square-foot factory. Citing six patents it was granted before Tesla unveiled its semi truck design in November, Nikola is suing for more than $2 billion. "Upon information and belief, Tesla's market value jumped by roughly $2 billion after the Semi unveiling", the complaint notes.

With that in mind, it seems pretty clear that Tesla's development of the Tesla Semi goes back quite a bit in time - possibly well before the Nikola Motor Company revealed anything publicly. "Further, any problems with the Tesla Semi will be attributed to the Nikola One, causing harm to the Nikola brand".

For now, Tesla is shrugging off the lawsuit, with a spokesperson telling the Verge that "it's patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit". Nikola says it will start delivering its hydrogen fuel-cell trucks in 2021, though initial test models are expected to be road-ready later this year.

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

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