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Nikola Motors, which is a Utah-based company working on electric vehicles and a battery-hydrogen semi-trucks, filed a lawsuit against Tesla claiming that they patented the design of their truck for the Tesla Semi.
The company is s as much as $2 billion from Tesla in what appears to be a clear case of patent trolling.
In the complaint, Nikola alleges that Tesla’s electric truck design infringes on a series of 3 specific design patents that they recently obtained for the design of a few features of their Nikola One truck unveiled in 2016 – a year before Tesla unveiled its own electric truck.
Here are the 3 specific complaints:
1. They alleged that the fuselage of the Tesla Semi is similar to the one that they patented.
2. Nikola’s patent for a wrap windshield on a semi-truck.
3. The third complaint is related to the fact that Nikola patented a mid-entry door design for their truck and Tesla is also using a mid-entry door for the Tesla Semi truck.
Nikola Motors claims that Tesla’s design is creating market confusion that is stealing away orders for their truck and therefore there are damages, which they estimate at over $2 billion.
The Suit Says
“Tesla’s design has caused confusion among customers. The confusion has diverted sales from Nikola to Tesla. Further, any problems with the Tesla Semi will be attributed to the Nikola One, causing harm to the Nikola brand.”
The suit then mentions a series of issues from “battery fires” to “autonomous features causing fatal accidents,” which Nikola says that the market now attributes to them.
A Tesla spokesperson said that the suit had no benefit while Trevor Milton, Nikola’s CEO, said that “the complaint speaks for itself.”
Ironically, Tesla, the man, and inventor didn’t like the litigious side of patents and often refrain from patenting his own inventions and he would completely avoid using anyone for infringement.
When it was brought to his attention that Marconi was using some of his patents in the development of the radio, he famously said “Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue.”
I cannot not to think that Nikola Tesla would be disapproving of Nikola Motors’ effort here.