Brief - The Hustle

Nikola v. Tesla: Musk’s company sued for $2B by hydrogen truck startup Nikola motors

Written by Wes Schlagenhauf | Sep 23, 2020 9:11:36 AM

Production issues of its new Model 3, controversy over a fatal autopilot car crash, getting trade secrets stolen by ol’ Anthony “sticky fingers” Levandowski… there’s always some kind of drama brewin’ at Tesla.

Now, you can add a $2B lawsuit to the fray.

Tuesday, Nikola Motor Company filed a lawsuit in Arizona alleging Tesla copied their patents when creating its electric semi truck — and Nikola wants to be compensated.

So what’s their proof?

Founded in 2014, Nikola took off with whatever the all-electric version of a Fast and the Furious NOS boost would be, presenting its first two products in two years: an electric 4-wheel offroadster and a hydrogen-electric semi truck.

The complaint lays out a laundry list of claims that, according to Nikola, capture a timeline proving that Tesla aped their patents — and it recalls a Tesla recruiter’s attempt to poach Nikola’s chief engineer mere months after the startup released its truck.

Nikola also lists various cosmetic similarities between Tesla’s semi and theirs — including its distinctive wraparound windshields and aerodynamic fuselage.

Coincidence? They think not

The companies obviously have odd similarities, starting with the fact that together their names round out the nod to the famous inventor Nikola Tesla (Tesla, in fairness, was founded 11 years earlier).

But Nikola believes patent stealing is going too far, claiming that Tesla’s truck is causing “confusion in the market,” harming their ability to attract investors and partners. Because, well, why wouldn’t investors go with Tesla?

Deny, deny, deny

Tesla denies the claims, telling the Verge, “it’s patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit.” — Ok, we see what you did there.

But Nikola believes the lawsuit’s proof speaks for itself. — Ouch, Tesla clowns you with a patent joke, and that’s all you got?