Report: $2B Nikola Motors Lawsuit Against Tesla Hits Snag

Nikola Motors claimed that Tesla Motors' semitruck infringed on its patent, but new developments don't make Nikola's case look good.

Nikola Motor Co.

Nikola Motors' $2 billion patent infringement lawsuit against Tesla Motors has reportedly encountered a significant obstacle. The former filed suit against the latter in May, Nikola accusing Tesla of violating its six patents for the design of its Nikola One fuel cell hybrid semitruck. However, according to Teslarati  a United States Patent and Trademark Office examiner granted Tesla a patent on its own semitruck design, acknowledging Nikola's design, but deeming the two distinguishable.

Nikola Motors specifically pointed to the Tesla Semi's wraparound windshield, body shape, door location, and other design details in its infringement suit. Nikola also claimed negative press about Tesla, specifically as pertaining to "batteries starting fires and its autonomous features causing fatal accidents," had a negative effect on its business.

Because the USPTO granted both companies patents, this reportedly added to the challenge faced by Nikola in winning its lawsuit, as Teslarati claims that Nikola will have to demonstrate that the USPTO examiner made a mistake by considering the two distinguishable. The lawsuit was originally filed shortly after Nikola issued mass refunds of customer deposits on its Nikola One truck, with the company claiming $8 billion worth of reservations by customers.

Nikola has yet to put its truck to the test, with trials expected to begin by the end of the year. Tesla on the other hand has been busy testing its own truck for months. Third-party sources have filmed the Tesla semi on the move as early as February, and it reportedly completed its first delivery run in March, according to Inside EVs, which reported that the truck was ferrying batteries between Tesla facilities to aid production.

Nikola doesn't just face a challenging court case; it too must demonstrate it actually has a truck to manufacture and sell. Again, Nikola promises testing will begin by the end of the year, so let's hope the Nikola One can prove the value of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.