One patent is for vehicle exterior design, and while it never mentions LeEco or the LeSee Pro that LeEco debuted in the US last October, the picture included in the filing unmistakably illustrates that car. The inventors named on this patent are Richard S. Kim, who is FF’s VP of design, and Brian Sung Oh, FF’s chief creative designer.
The other is for a steering wheel. And while FF’s former lead designer Charles LeFranc is listed as the inventor, the illustration in the patent filing clearly shows a steering wheel that bears LeEco’s logo. Both patents were filed in March 2016, one month before LeEco originally unveiled the LeSee in China.
Both FF and LeEco have been coy about the relationship that exists between the two companies. FF executives and representatives typically refer to LeEco as an initial or major investor, or a “supplier,” but executives from both companies have sometimes gone as far as saying the two are “strategic partners.”