May 3, 2018

 Design patent issues for the future of trucking

A lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court for the District of Arizona against Tesla in respect of its planned new electric lorry, the Tesla Semi.

Nikola, a designer and manufacturer of electric components and vehicles, is suing Tesla over alleged infringement of three design patents filed in 2015 and granted over the last two months. In the complaint Nikola states that it warned Tesla that it had design patents-pending for components which it appeared that Tesla were purporting to use in their truck when it was announced last year.

Nikola is not a small player in the electric-vehicle market, and as early as August 2016 it claimed to have received orders worth up to $2.3b in respect of over 7,000 "Nikola One" electric trucks. It was around this time that it is alleged that Tesla attempted to headhunt Nikola's chief engineer: an attempt that was unsuccessful.

Unlike most intellectual property litigation involving tech companies like Tesla, this litigation is not related to the technology of the products: it relates to the 'wrap windshield', fuselage, and mid-entry door. Nikola claims that these features on the Tesla Semi infringe their design patents.

A Tesla spokesperson gave a statement on the litigation to the World Intellectual Property Review, claiming that "it's patently obvious there is no merit in this lawsuit".

We will keep an eye out for updates, and see if Tesla is correct in its assessment.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or



in: Designs, EU/International, News

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