Nikola drops $2 bln patent lawsuit against Tesla over truck design

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REUTERS/Alexandria Sage

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  • Nikola accused Tesla's Semi truck of copying Nikola One design
  • Parties agreed to dismiss claims without prejudice

(Reuters) - Electric-vehicle maker Nikola Corp is dropping its patent lawsuit against Tesla Inc over the design of Tesla's Semi trucks, according to a filing late Tuesday in San Francisco federal court.

The filing did not explain why the companies agreed to end the case. Nikola, Tesla, and their attorneys didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Phoenix-based Nikola sued Tesla in Arizona in 2018, seeking at least $2 billion for the alleged infringement of design patents, a utility patent, and trademark rights related to its Nikola One hydrogen-fueled truck.

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The case was moved to San Francisco later that year.

The complaint said Tesla's truck infringed Nikola patents covering its truck's wrap windshield, mid-entry door, overall design, and other features.

Tesla countered that, among other things, Nikola's design patents were invalid because they were similar to an earlier truck design that it had "intentionally concealed" from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Tuesday's voluntary dismissal was without prejudice, which means the claims and counterclaims could be refiled.

Tesla unveiled the Semi in 2017 and said at the time that it would start producing the trucks by 2019. Company executives said on an investor call last year that the launch of the trucks had been delayed until 2022.

Nikola agreed to pay $125 million in December to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it misled investors about its technology, production capabilities and financial outlook.

U.S. District Judge James Donato presided over the case.

The case is Nikola Corp v. Tesla Inc, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:18-cv-07460.

For Nikola: Leo Beus and Richard Williams of Beus Gilbert McGroder, Allan Steyer of Steyer Lowenthal Boodrookas Alvarez & Smith

For Tesla: Aamir Kazi and Daniel Gopenko of Fish & Richardson, Michael Friedland of Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear, Heidi Keefe and Michael Rhodes of Cooley LLP, Colin Proksel and Eric Fraser of Osborn Maledon.

Read more:

Nikola Motor sues Tesla alleging design patent violation

Design patent case against Tesla holds no truck with experts

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com