Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) is being sued by hybrid-truck design startup, Nikola Motor Company, for allegedly copying its designs. According to court filings, Nikola Motor Company founders state that Tesla’s first electric heavy duty rig, the Semi, is “substantially” similar to the Company’s own truck that it first revealed in May 2016.
Nikola Motor Company is seeking USD 2 Billion for alleged patent infringement. The value reflects what Tesla capitalized from the market after it unveiled its Semi. The Company also claims Tesla’s truck caused confusion and hurt Nikola’s ability to attract investors and partners in the market.
The startup indicated that it obtained six different design patents between February and April 2018 for the Company’s design of the Nikola One, including its wrap windshield, mid-entry door, fender, fuselage, and side cladding. The Nikola One and Tesla Semi show notable similarities when placed side-by-side for comparison.
Nikola sent a cease-and-desist letter to Tesla in early November 2017, urging the fellow electric automaking competitor to delay the unveiling of its Semi until the lawsuit was settled. However, Tesla didn’t respond to the request and even went on to provide a preview of its new truck at an event in Hawthorne, California on November 16th. According to an email sent to Reuters, a Tesla spokesman said, “It’s patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit.”
Tesla is yet to provide further details on the Semi as mass production hasn’t occurred. The Company has seen pre-orders placed by major companies such as PepsiCo Inc. (NASDAQ: PEP), United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS) and Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT). The first deliveries of Tesla’s Semi are due in 2020.