Nikola begins electric semitruck war, hits Tesla with $2 billion patent suit

Nikola One presentation

Tesla's planned new truck infringes three design patents owned by a competitor, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday.

Shortly after, a recruiter for Tesla contacted Nikola's chief engineer, the suit claimed.

Here's what Nikola's truck design, which it says it unveiled in May 2016, looks like compared to Tesla's.

Nikola has asked that Tesla be permanently enjoined from infringing Nikola's patents; all damages resulting from the infringement, which Nikola estimates to be more than $2 billion; triple damages for wilful patent infringement; and legal costs.

Now, there's a $2 billion lawsuit to add to the mix. The company has not given much details of the Semi, but has said that the truck would begin production in 2019.

A Tesla spokesperson said that it was "patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit".

Now as to the patents at issue, the suit cites six design patents which cover Nikola's wrap-around windshield, a mid-entry door, along with design patents that encompass the fuselage, fender, side cladding, and "the overall design of a semi".

In January, Nikola announced it would build a $1-billion factory in Arizona, where it plans to manufacture its trucks, none of which are on the road yet.

On 16 November 2017, Tesla unveiled its semi design in Hawthorne, California at an event and reception attended by hundreds of journalists, industry leaders, potential customers, and Tesla employees. By August 2016, Nikola said it had more than 300 orders totalling over 7,000 trucks-a value of $2.3 billion.

The inventor Nikola Tesla, who died over 70 years ago, left behind a legacy that continues to inspire innovators today, and probably most famously visible in the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla, which was named in homage to the Serbian. Nearly immediately, Tesla received orders for its Semi. "Upon information and belief, Tesla does not have any patents protecting the design of its semi-truck and has not filed any applications for design patent protection". "Further, any problems with the Tesla Semi will be attributed to the Nikola One, causing harm to the Nikola brand".

Nikola claims the Tesla Semi is "substantially" similar to its own.

A Tesla spokesperson downplayed the lawsuit in a statement to the Verge, while a Nikola rep refused to comment.

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