Startup sues Tesla for $2 billion over electric big rig truck design

The Nikola One hydrogen-electric freight truck

The Nikola One hydrogen-electric freight truck. Nikola Motors

At issue is Tesla's all-electric Semi truck, which start-up Nikola Motor Company says copied from its patents for its hydrogen truck. Nikola claims the Tesla Semi is "substantially" similar to its own design.

"Tesla's design has caused confusion among customers".

Nikola also alleges that Aaron Hoyos, a recruiter for Tesla, attempted to poach the company's chief engineer a few months after Nikola had published its designs, according to a recent Fortune article.

Nikola has asked that Tesla be permanently enjoined from infringing Nikola's patents; all damages resulting from the infringement, which Nikola estimates to be more than $2 billion; triple damages for wilful patent infringement; and legal costs.

Nikola lays out a timeline and specifies how Tesla infringed upon its design and in the works electric semi-truck.

"It's patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit", a Tesla spokesman told Reuters in an email.

In the patent infringement lawsuit, Nikola points to similarities between its own and Tesla's front fenders, windshield design and shape, some doors, aerodynamics and more as proof that the electric auto maker copied its work.

The hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle startup filed design patents on its Class 8 truck in December 2015 and showed off a real-world prototype in December 2016 (you can read Ars' coverage of that announcement here).

The suit focuses on three key parts of the Tesla Semi.

Still, on November 16, Tesla unveiled its truck and "almost immediately" received orders and saw its market share jump by about $2 billion, the suit says.

By Aug. 31, 2016, Nikola had 300 orders for more than 7,000 of its trucks with a total value of more than $2.3 billion.

They might be able to share the first and last name of the famed inventor, however there's plenty of bad blood between Nikola and Tesla.

. For example, Tesla has had problems with its batteries starting fires and its autonomous features causing fatal accidents. It specifically calls out similarities in the trucks' body, wraparound windshield, and mid-entry door. Nikola has previously said that it would build 360 hydrogen fueling stations in the US. On the other side, a spokesperson for Nikola refused to comment as it "is in the courts", but that the lawsuit "speaks for itself".

Ahead of China trip, Lighthizer makes no predictions
Person From California Has Died From Romaine Lettuce E. Coli Outbreak