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The Yau Law Firm
Focused on Protecting Businesses and Representing the Injured

Tesla Faces Trademark Battle in China

The internet is abuzz with news of Tesla Motors, an American company that makes electric cars, battling a trademark lawsuit in China against businessman, Zhan Baosheng. The luxury electric-car maker is being sued in China for trademark infringement; Zhan is claiming that he owns the trademark over “Tesla” in English and the Chinese translation. According to Reuters, Zhan received registration of the trademark in China as early as June of 2009. Tesla, who began selling and manufacturing its vehicles in China as early as August of 2013, has attempted to resolve this dispute by offering to buy the name from Zhan. But, the negotiations failed, and Zhan is demanding 23.9 million yuan (or $3.9 million dollars) in payment and that Tesla cease all business and marketing efforts in China.

Prior to entering the Chinese market, Tesla understood the legal hurdles it must jump through, including Zhan’s stake over the trademark. But, Tesla is confident that the case is without merit, considering that in July of 2013, the SAIC’s Trademark Review and Adjudication Board in China complied with Tesla’s request to have Zhan’s trademark revoked. Zhan is currently seeking an appeal.

News of the lawsuit has brought on quite the internet rage: some have called Zhan a trademark troll, while Tesla stated that Zhan’s stake over “Tesla” is nothing less than theft. From the news, it is unclear to us whether Zhan is actually using “Tesla” in commerce, which is a necessary element in trademark claims in the United States. Nevertheless, we are interested in seeing the outcome of this intellectual property debate and hope that it will not hinder any commercial efforts of Tesla in any country.

Do you have a business? Consider trademarking! Give us a call today to discuss all things related to protecting your intellectual property.

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