In a surprising turn of events, Tesla (TSLA) now claims Nikola (NKLA) stole its truck design from Rimac’s designer in an update to its patent lawsuit update.
As we previously reported, Nikola alleged that Tesla’s electric truck design infringes on its existing patents.
Specifically, a series of three design patents that Nikola obtained for the design of a few features of its Nikola One truck unveiled in 2016 — a year before Tesla unveiled its own electric truck.
Nikola is asking for $2 billion in damages from Tesla.
Tesla denies the claims, but since Nikola obtained the design patent, it is now in a position to either show that it is not infringing on the patent or attempt to invalidate the patents.
In a new response filed this week, Tesla claimed that the patents aren’t valid because Nikola failed to disclose that some of the Nikola One’s features were designed by Adriano Mudri, most known for being the Director of Design at Rimac.
Tesla wrote in their response:
“Adriano Mudri is the designer of the Road Runner concept truck. The Road Runner truck is a hydrogen-powered concept truck. The Road Runner concept truck was entered into the 2010 Michelin Design Challenge, and was selected for display at the 2010 North American International Auto Show. Several images of the Road Runner concept truck are reproduced below.”
Here are the pictures that Tesla references in the statement above:
Tesla claims that Trevor Milton met with Adriano Mudri “during 2014 and/or 2015” and he was aware of the Road Runner truck design, which has similar features as the Nikola One, including the wrap-around windshield — one of the designs that Nikola patented.
The automaker added in the filing:
“Adriano Mudri’s Road Runner concept truck design constituted a significant inventive contribution to the inventions claimed in the Design Patents. Adriano Mudri was not identified as an inventor during prosecution of the applications that led to the Design Patents.”
Tesla argues that Milton had “deceptive intent” in not naming Mudri as an inventor in the patent application and that the patent office wouldn’t have issued the patent if they would have been aware that some features were based on a prior design by Mudri.
Here is Tesla’s new filing in full as part of the lawsuit:
[scribd id=477328194 key=key-BYQzXtcRoP41feCGCpXo mode=scroll]
When Nikola first filed the lawsuit, we broke down each of the Nikola’s specific claims in what we believed basically amounted to a patent trolling case in a purely design-based objective way.
The truth is that the patent office should have never granted the patents in the first place.
They are all about vague design features that have been around for decades before Nikola ever existed and granting them only opens the door for some malicious people to do some patent trolling.
That’s exactly what happened.
I think the only winners in this situation, like it is often the case in those patent trolling cases, are going to be the lawyers involved.
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