In recent days, the name Trevor Milton has been in countless headlines. In a promotional video for the company, it was determined that Nikola’s truck was not driving by itself, but instead using gravity to descend from a slope. This was done to make investors believe the company had a working product. After this brazen investor deception, Milton was subjected to severe but seemingly well-placed criticism.
And now, Milton is involved in another shocking scandal. Two years ago, his hydrogen truck startup sued Tesla, claiming the Tesla Semi is a knockoff of Nikola’s own truck design. On September 23, Tesla filed a response in the case, accusing Nikola of building its own truck based on a 2010 concept by designer Adriano Mudri.
“Adriano Mudri is the designer of the Road Runner concept truck,” Tesla writes in its legal filing. “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.”
According to Tesla, Milton met Mudri in 2014 and/or 2015. Tesla claims that Milton was aware of the Road Runner concept truck at the time he applied for design patents, which Nikola later used to sue Tesla, and that Mudri’s design was “constituted a significant inventive contribution” to the designs Nikola patented, Ars Technica reports.
Milton and Nikola designer Steve Jennes were listed as inventors on Nikola’s patent applications, which failed to acknowledge Mudri’s alleged influence over the design. Tesla argues that failure to recognize Mudri should invalidate Nikola’s patents.
Tesla also notes that some of the Nikola’s design elements, including the rounded windshield and the overall streamlined shape, have long been present in other trucks. Photos of several other trucks that share similarities with Nikola’s patented design were attached to the case.