A federal judge administratively closed a $ 2 billion patent infringement lawsuit that Nikola brought against Tesla in 2018 for patent infringement, essentially removing him from the role of the Northern District Court of California because the two companies had stopped responding. Nikola has until October 6 to justify pursuing the case. Otherwise, the Nikola v. Tesla will be rejected.
Nikola “dropped the ball, and this 2018 action is languishing with no explanation or apparent just cause,” Judge James Donato wrote in a show cause order released this week. “Therefore, the case is administratively closed. Nikola is ordered to justify in writing by October 6, 2021, why the case should not be closed for lack of prosecution. “
Nikola and Tesla have apparently stopped responding to some of the court’s requests in recent months. “On July 7, 2021, the Court asked the parties to schedule new dates for tutoring and construction hearings. Neither side responded, ”Donato wrote. “On September 2, 2021, the Court canceled the continuation of the claim construction proceeding due to the lack of response. As of the date of this Order, neither party has informed the Court of the proposed new hearing dates.
Michael Rhodes, an attorney representing Tesla, declined to comment. A spokesperson for Nikola declined to comment. Nikola’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.
Nikola, for his part, has had to spend a lot of time and money putting out major fires over the past year. Shortly after its 2020 IPO – and almost immediately after General Motors announced plans to take a minority stake in the startup – Nikola founder and former CEO Trevor Milton was accused of fraud by the company. Hindenburg Research. Among the allegations, Milton was accused of faking a video of Nikola’s truck driving on a road (it was really going down a hill).
Nikola conducted his own investigation of the allegations (and found many of them to be true), but the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice have also done so. Milton was charged with several counts of fraud in July. He is currently in federal custody but has claimed his innocence.
In the initial complaint filed in March 2018, Nikola accused Tesla of infringing the patents the startup had filed for its large hydrogen platform. Nikola tried to argue that Tesla’s Tesla Semi used the same wrap-around windshield, same mid-entry doors, and same aero fuselage, among other details. The startup also alleged that a Tesla recruiter attempted to poach Nikola’s chief engineer, and claimed it was proof that Tesla was interested in Nikola’s designs. In allegedly stealing the design, Nikola said Tesla was causing “confusion in the market” and allowing the infringement to continue would cost the startup more than $ 2 billion in sales. Tesla said at the time that it was “patently obvious that there is no basis” for the lawsuit.
Both companies have spent much of the past three years wondering which specific patents would be judged. (At one point last year, Tesla attempted to argue that Nikola stole his own truck design from Croatian hypercar company Rimac.) In April 2020, Tesla lost an offer with the US Office. patents and trademarks to invalidate some of the patents in question. . Milton tweeted at the time: “A two billion dollar lawsuit is moving forward. We will defend the intellectual property of our business, no matter who it is.