Tesla Semi rival Nikola sues for $2 billion over alleged patent infringement

Tesla Semi rival Nikola Motors has filed a $2 billion lawsuit against the California-based electric car and energy company. According to trucking startup, the Tesla Semi’s design infringes on the patents of the Nikola One, its hydrogen fuel cell-powered sleeper cab.

Nikola’s complaint outlines several design aspects of the Semi that were allegedly copied from the One. Among these are the Semi’s wraparound windshield, mid-entry door, front fenders, and the electric truck’s aerodynamic body. The similar drag coefficient between the Nikola One (0.37) and the Tesla Semi (0.36) was also cited as further evidence that the Elon Musk-led company copied Nikola’s design.

The lawsuit also stated that Tesla, at one point, attempted to hire Nikola’s chief engineer not long after the One was unveiled to the public. Furthermore, a cease and desist letter was sent to Tesla before the unveiling of the Semi, asking the Elon Musk-led company to hold off on the vehicle’s announcement until its patent issues with Nikola were resolved.  Tesla, however, opted to ignore the request.

Overall, Nikola claims that the Tesla Semi is causing “confusion in the market,” and it is already harming its business. The startup further stated that the similarities between the Semi and the One would result in damages to the Nikola brand, considering the problems exhibited by Tesla’s vehicles. An excerpt from Nikola’s lawsuit could be found below.

“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.

“For example, Tesla has had problems with its batteries starting fires and its autonomous features causing fatal accidents. Should these problems arise with the Tesla Semi, the market will attribute these problems to Nikola because of the similarities between the two vehicles.

“Customers will also impute the Tesla Semi’s limitations (distance and charging time) to Nikola, which will make Nikola’s product less appealing to customers. Nikola and Tesla are offering competing technology solutions (hybrid versus pure electric). Diverting sales from Nikola to Tesla decreases the chance that Nikola’s technology will be adopted as the standard for alternative fuel semi-trucks.

“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 estimates its harm from Tesla’s infringement to be in excess of $2 billion.”

In a statement to The Verge, a Tesla spokesperson dismissed the lawsuit.

“It’s patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit,” the Tesla spokesperson said.

Nikola has been raising its anti-Tesla game as of late. Just recently, we reported on the startup throwing shade at the Elon Musk-led company by stating that it would be refunding 100% of the reservations placed for its hydrogen fuel cell-powered trucks. Seemingly taking a dig at Tesla’s finances, Nikola boasted that it had already received more than $8 billion worth of pre-orders for its vehicles, and that has never used any deposit money to fund its operations.

Tesla Semi rival Nikola sues for $2 billion over alleged patent infringement
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