Nikola Motors’ lawsuit over the Tesla Semi design lawsuit is moving forward after their design patents have been upheld despite looking quite weak.
As we previously reported, Nikola alleged that Tesla’s electric truck design infringes on its existing patents. Specifically, a series of 3 patents that Nikola recently obtained for the design of a few features of their Nikola One truck unveiled in 2016 – a year before Tesla unveiled its own electric truck.
We broke down each of the Nikola’s specific claims in what we believed basically amounted to a patent trolling case in a purely design-based objective way.
On a legal basis, their claim was based on being awarded design patents on their own truck design.
Tesla petitioned USPTO to invalidate Nikola’s patent since their ideas were not novel and existed before, but now the USPTO announced that they upheld the patents.
Nikola Motors CEO Trevor Milton said:
Tesla loses bid to invalidate @nikolamotor patents in USPTO dispute. USPTO not only upheld Nikola semi truck important patents but refused Tesla's ask to modify our patents. Two billion dollar lawsuit moving forward. We will defend our company's IP no matter who it is.
— Trevor Milton (@nikolatrevor) April 20, 2020
Nikola Motors first announced plans for a hybrid electric and natural gas semi truck over 4 years ago.
They later changed their plans to hybrid battery-electric and fuel cell hydrogen trucks with plans for a massive hydrogen supply chain and fueling station network.
Later, Tesla unveiled its own all-electric semi truck that showed battery-electric class 8 vehicles were viable and it changed many people’s perspectives.
At the time, before suing them, Nikola Motors mocked Tesla’s effort – arguing that they couldn’t achieve the range that they were claiming on battery-electric only, but the startup ended up later announcing its own battery-electric trucks.
After Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck, Nikola also ended up unveiling its electric pickup truck earlier this year.
I use to be a fan of Nikola when they bought a startup and built a UTV, but they have since lost me.
This lawsuit is absolutely ridiculous and it blows my mind that they don’t see how weak it makes them look that they only way for them to compete with Tesla is to try to sue them over very dubious claims.
The three specific design aspects that they claim Tesla stole are a mid-entry door, wrap windshield, and the shape of the body, which have been around for decades – way before Nikola Motors existed:
Therefore, it’s my opinion that they patented those designs for patent trolling.
Milton claims a victory because USPTO upheld the patents, but that doesn’t mean that they have any chance of winning the lawsuit.
It was just Tesla’s attempt at avoiding the lawsuit by killing the patents, which I think was a smart attempt considering how unoriginal the ideas behind those patents are.
I sure hope the courts get that one right.
It’s a real bummer because there’s a bunch of things to like about Nikola’s business, but they lost so much credibility with that lawsuit that I find it so hard to get behind them.
If you have information about Nikola Motors, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Fred@electrek.co, via Wickr: Fredev, or through my social media: Twitter and Instagram.
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