Tesla vs. Nikola: Elon Musk Company Sued For $2 Billion Over Patents

Marcus Newton
May 3, 2018

Nikola Corporation has sued Tesla for $2 billion over alleged patent infringement relating to electric semi trucks.

The founders of Nikola Motor Company claim Tesla infringed on its design as the company sought to being an all electric semi truck to market.

Specifically, the suit points out the similarities in the shape of the body, the wraparound windscreen and the easy-access mid-entry door.

The lawsuit goes on to allege Tesla reached out to Nikola's chief engineer Kevin Lynk in September 2016, apparently in a bid to hire him, but Nikola never responded to the invitation.

According to the suit, Nikola released its design in May 2016 and alleges that sometime after Tesla took this idea and ran with it. The company has not given much details of the Semi, but has said that the truck would begin production in 2019.

A Tesla spokesperson told Fortune that it's "patently obvious" the lawsuit has no merit. Its goal is to launch a long-haul hydrogen-electric hybrid truck as early as 2020 with help from German manufacturing giant Bosch.

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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".

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

Nikola said it attempted to communicate with Tesla days before the California company unveiled the Semi, asking that the debut event be canceled.

Nikola said that by August 2016 it had received orders for more than 7,000 of the trucks, totalling $2.3 billion. For example, Tesla has had problems with its batteries starting fires and its autonomous features causing fatal accidents.

In January of this year, Nikola announced plans to build a 1 million square-foot plant in Phoenix to produce both the Nikola One and smaller Nikola Two models, with the facility expected to be completed in 2024.

Two months later, in July of 2016, Musk announced that Tesla was working on an electric truck of its own and meant to unveil it in 2017. On the other side, a spokesperson for Nikola refused to comment as it "is in the courts", but that the lawsuit "speaks for itself".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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