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Nikola Motor Company Sues Tesla Just Ahead Of Earnings Report

In a sign that the company is perhaps not all that happy about Tesla releasing an all-electric semi truck, the Nikola Motor Company has filed a lawsuit against Tesla alleging design patent infringements relating to that product.

In a sign that the company is perhaps not all that happy about Tesla releasing an all-electric semi truck, the Nikola Motor Company has filed a lawsuit against Tesla alleging design patent infringements relating to that product.

Tesla Semi

Tesla Semi

Nikola One

Notably, the lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, just before Tesla’s reporting of new financials information. Presumably, that timing isn’t coincidental, which raises the question then: What are Nikola Motor Company’s motives here with regard to the lawsuit? To truly win the lawsuit? Or to create negative PR for Tesla?

Nikola One

As some background here for those unfamiliar with the situation, Nikola Motor Company revealed plans to release hydrogen fuel cell powered electric semi trucks quite a while back, before Tesla’s all-electric semi truck plans were announced. Even that being the case, though, Tesla’s offering is slated to make it to market far before the Nikola Motor Company offering.

With that in mind, it seems pretty clear that Tesla’s development of the Tesla Semi goes back quite a bit in time — possibly well before the Nikola Motor Company revealed anything publicly. Such a situation casts some possible doubt on the company’s claim of patent infringements.

Tesla Semi Trucks

The new lawsuit filing states: “Nikola estimates its harm from Tesla’s infringement to be in excess of $2 billion.”

That certainly represents a substantial amount of money. It also makes you wonder if the company is now worried that the Tesla Semi will significantly undercut demand for its product, and is thus altering its business plan accordingly.

Reuters provides a bit more information here: “Tesla’s Semi, its first electric heavy duty truck, is ‘substantially’ similar to Nikola’s design, Nikola Motor said in a court filing. Salt Lake City, Utah-based Nikola claims it was issued 6 design patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office between February and April 2018 for its wrap windshield, mid-entry door, fuselage, fender, side cladding, and the overall design of the Nikola One.”

In response to the lawsuits filing, a spokesperson for Tesla is reported to have rejected the claims being made. He stated (in an email interview with Reuters): “It’s patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit.”

As some further background here, it’s probably worth realizing that Tesla is reportedly already well into the real-world testing phase of its semi truck development program. Production of the Tesla Semi is currently slated to begin in 2019. For even more perspective, here are notable reservations we know of that have been put down for the two semi trucks in this story:

Tesla Semi

UPS — 125 trucks

PepsiCo — 100 trucks

TCI Transportation — 50 trucks

Sysco — 50 trucks

Anheuser-Busch — 40 trucks

Loblaw — 25 trucks

FedEx — 20 trucks

Walmart — 15 trucks

DHL — 10 trucks

Asko Norway — 10 trucks

Titanium Transportation Group — 5 trucks

And reportedly many more.

Nikola One

Well, we’re not actually sure of notable reservations. Nikola Motor Company reports that there are 8,000. However … there’s no cost to make a reservation. In the case of the Tesla Semi, you have to fork over actual cash to reserve a truck — a minimum of $20,000 each. So …


Related:

Will Tesla Semi Bring In $20 Billion In Annual Revenue? $3-5 Billion In Profits?

DHL Exec: Tesla Semi Trucks To Pay For Themselves In 1.5 Years

Tesla Trucks Will Dominate The Market

Electric Semi Trucks & Heavy-Duty Trucks — Available Models & Planned Models (In-Depth List)

 
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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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