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Any sharp attorneys in the house specializing in international law to assist Tesla in China with copyright issue?

according to the following Reuters article a Chinese businessman (Zhan Baosheng) had the foresight to register Tesla in China back in 2006 and owns the "Tesla" trademark in China which is preventing Tesla Motors USA to open a flagship showroom in Beiging. Should Tesla pay him off for the easy profit he was banking on, or should Tesla fight the case in court and delay the launch of their flagship showroom? From a business standpoint it may be cheaper and wiser to payoff the man, but personally i don't want to see him get a penny from Tesla.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/23/us-china-autos-tesla-idUSBRE97...

@mikefa

In this case lawyers would not play any roles to stop this Chinese thief and troll. Only Chinese government, if it wants, can stop and eliminate this guy's ridiculous sham.

IMO, this Chinese thief has not only publicly and shamelessly demonstrated how he stolen Tesla's logo and concept (an amateur design combining Roadster and Model S) but also acted just like a most shameless thief who stole your property and then tried to extort the rightful owner. He has demanded $32 million dollars from Tesla to get the name (Tesla Motors) and the domain name (teslamotors.com.cn) back. A typical heartless and dishonorable Chinese businessman.

Elon wouldn't pay this bozo the $32M he demanded. So TM decided on a new name for the Chinese market instead.

The new name works out better because the intended market would have called Tesla in a mandarin dialect into "Tes-si-la"(a form of pronunciation) instead. The original translated name was very unflattering.

@mathew,

Yes, you are right. See this thread:

www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/rumor-tesla-becomes-tuosule-china

Sometimes I get the impression the Chinese tie themselves into knots trying to obtain, achieve, or avoid favorite or feared puns!

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,however in this instance,I wouldn't even submit to this bandit or give him the time of day. What goes around,comes around and I figure $32,000,000 can buy you a lot of knee cappers eager to dispatch this rodent. QUID PRO QUO I SAY!!!!

In china the Model S will be sold from 'the company formaly known as Tesla' :P

'formerly' is how it's spelled, formally.

I have suggested enlisting the help of a professional life termination service in another thread.

1) Name:

Do you really need copyright to sell a merchandise in China?

If "Lady Gaga" is copyright by a local Chinese man, does that prevent original US CDs from selling in China?

2) Website:

So what if "LadyGaga.com.cn" is taken, can't Chinese comsumers log on original US site to get the merchandise?

First, I just need to interject here (as an Intellectual Property attorney) that as a first step we need to be careful to distinguish between Trademark and Copyright law. These are entirely different areas of law (which, together with patent law, make up "Intellectual Property" Law).

This is a trademark issue, not a copyright issue.

And while the issue with the transliterated version of the name has been addressed by choosing a different three-word phonetic compound mark (tuosule) that does not address the registration of the actual romanized name Tesla or the use and registration of the graphical mark.

I have not yet looked at the details of the case, and the squatter's registrations, but if he has registered the romanized original name and the graphical mark too, then Tesla would still be barred from using those in China.

And, I can assure you getting a chinese court to rule in Tesla's favor will be no small feat, though it is not impossible. They may have little choice but to buy him out. But, as I said, I have not looked at all at the details of the case as yet.

Suggesting someone be killed is worse than stealing a trademark!

@Hodas

From a legal point view it would probably be that as you said Tesla has little choice but to buy this Chinese trademark troll out. However, I applaud Elon's decision not to yield to this guy's ridiculous demand and to use a totally new name for Tesla in China.

Since Chinese market is completely a different beast and Tesla has not yet entered it, a Chinese name for Tesla as a company that is used by Tesla will ultimately become a recognizable brand. Also, the new Chinese name that Tesla has decided to adopt is much better in pronunciation and in its Chinese meaning than the old sound translation of Tesla that was trademarked by the Chinese trademark troll.

Therefore, TM 's strategic move in China avoiding to fight the trademark issue is smarter and correct.

I doubt the exact letters "Tesla" make much of a difference to the Chinese consumer who would buy it. Everyone knows what the real car/brand is, regardless of the exact spelling.

My point is that the registration of "tuosule" (or, more specifically, of a three-character ideograph romanized as "tuo su le") does not resolve the issue.

The squatter registered both "Tesla" and a three-ideograph mark that when pronounced happens to sound like "tesla". In China you tend to market with both, as well as your graphical trademark.

Tesla now registered a different three-character ideograph (romanized as "tuo su le") that sounds a bit less like "tesla" than the one the squatter registered, but has a somewhat nicer actual meaning.

That resolves the issue for the ideographic mark, but does not allow Tesla to use the word "Tesla" written in english characters, or to use the graphical symbol (logo) it uses elsewhere. (I believe the squatter registered both of those as well. But, as I said I have not researched the case.)

If Tesla wants to use it's english name or its logo in ads in China, then it will need to consider paying him off.

Also, you cannot assume that an arbitrary Chinese citizen who types tesla.co.cn into a browser will not realize that they are not looking at the actual Tesla's web site.

@Hodas,

You are right on the issue. Yet I still believe that TM is doing the right thing, i.e., try to get the governmental approval to open TM's very first showroom in Beijing (now the hurdle is not the trademark but the governmental approval process) AND at the same time through its legal team to challenge the Chinese trademark squatter's validity of his Tesla trademark in the local court.

Beyond this logistics, TM still faces a huge challenge in successfully selling MS in China. The road to a success in China will be long and undulating.

@bradslee@yahoo.com - but why would the Chinese government deny Tesla's showroom request in Beiging in order to support an obvious trademark troll? Wouldn't that hurt the Chinese government's reputation as an unfriendly territory for foreign investors to do business in their country especially when their economy are tanking?

@mikefa

By now you should know that not every courts in the world love Americans!

Examine#1:
English court defended its citizens for defaming Tesla. TV program Top Gear showed Tesla Roadster ran out of battery at 55 miles out of expected 211 miles and had to be manually pushed to the garage.

Tesla found out that the episode was "staged" filed the lawsuit. It lost the first round. Then it appealed. After repeated examinations: OK! It's fake, it's staged, but the English appeal court still dismissed the lawsuit.

Examine#2:
Italian jury convicted American student Amanda Knox of murdering roommate despite of lack of physical evidence.

What I meat to spell was Example :)

There are people in China constantly trying to grab the trademarks of Western startups and then extort the start-ups.

This one just happens to be a really big fish.

What I would do is to design a new logo, the current one is not all that attractive (imo) anyway, and in the mean time fight the trade mark troll in the court with whatever means you have. The outcome is another matter but you can't buy the free publicity with any amounts of money.

It's not clear at all that the MARK (giant T) was registered at all.

In fact, Tesla (the name) is R registered as a mark, while the Giant T is TM which means filed but not granted which means the filing was at a later date.

Tesla will be able to use the T logo but not english letters T-E-S-L-A

@SamoSam

From what I read, it seems that Chinese has registered:

1) Romanized name Tesla:

2) Chinese characters for "Tesla"

3) Exact US Tesla "T" Logo (but the font of the word "Tesla" is different and the position of the word is on top)

TM (filed), R= registered

A) Buyout:

Apple paid $60 Million for IPad name in China after 2 years in court. The current Tesla trademark owner wants only 1/2 of what Apple paid.

However, doing so would encourage more trolls and squatters.

B) Lawsuit:

1) lengthy delays if won.
2) if lost, the buyout price might even be much higher.

C) New name and logo:

The disadvantage is the international good name is ruined by trolls/squatters.

However, this might be the quickest way to get into China market and let the trolls and squatters hang dry.

There was a good discussion on this subject at Seeking Alpha titled 'Tesla Motors faces trademark hurdle in China (Aug.23,6:51 am)'

I support approach C) @Tam above.

1) Mxxx Motors
2) Palo Alto Motors as suggested in SA
3) MxxxmElon

only for China.

Musk Motors is a good choice. It's a bigger name now than Tesla anyway.

They need to start selling the car in first Taiwan because of the delay in China.

@rchiang:

Sounds good but can you blame Tesla when the mainland's millionaires number is 1,110,000

http://www.rediff.com/business/slide-show/slide-show-1-countries-with-th...

and Taiwan number is 246,000

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/06/12/countries-with-most-millionaires...

By comparison, US has about 5,231,000 millionaires.

There's no statistics showing whether millionaires would buy more than non-millionaires would.

Patent trolls and domain squatters are the absolute dregs of humanity. They put NNT to shame.
Create or Produce or do something.
A local Mom&Pop store, hell, work at McDonald's for all I care, but do something.

I like 'Musk Motors'. Big 'M' instead of a 'T'.

Do NOT give in to trademark trolls in China. Just encourages more.


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