May 2018. Tesla has sailed into choppy waters. Not only did the electric vehicles manufacturer post record losses of USD 750 million in the first quarter of this year, on 1 May it was also presented with an unexpected two billion dollar claim by US truck-maker Nikola Corporation.

Design copied

Nikola filed a lawsuit with a court in Arizona accusing Tesla of basing the design of its new truck – the Tesla Semi (left), which was launched in November 2017 to considerable fanfare – on that of its own Nikola One (right). Nikola claims it has sustained losses of over USD 2 billion as a result.

Truck sector

Such astronomical sums usually only feature in disputes concerning patent infringements in the smartphone industry. The fact that such an amount is now being claimed in the electric truck sector suggests that expectations of this market are high.

The designs registered by Nikola: the mid-entry door, fuselage and wrap windshield

Protected design

Nikola’s suit is based on three design patents which it applied for in the US in 2015 and for which it obtained registrations earlier this year. The three patents cover the shape of the fuselage, the ‘wrap’ windshield and the mid-entry door.

Bas Kist