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Tesla trademark spat threatens Musk's China dream

Wheels will come off electric motor biz if Chinese bloke wins court fight

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Elon Musk’s electric wagon biz Tesla may be forced to retreat from China after Chinese businessman Zhan Baosheng claimed he owns the trademark "Tesla". Guangdong-based Zhan registered 特斯拉 (Te Si La) in 2006 – well before Tesla set up shop in the Middle Kingdom.

According to Reuters, Tesla thought the dispute was resolved in January, and started flogging Model S sedans in the nation. But Zhan has made a renewed bid, and is taking the US company to court.

Zhan demands that all the showrooms, sales and marketing activity in China, and supercharger stations are shut down. He’s asking for 23.9 million yuan ($3.85 million).

The businessman, found on Twitter as @Chinese, claims to be working on his own electric car with Chinese carmaker Guangzhou Automobile (GAC). The bloke says he is seeking investors, and is using a logo similar to Tesla’s own.

At the launch event of the Model S in the UK in June, Musk told The Register China is set to challenge the US as the biggest market in the world for Tesla cars, and that he was planning to build a factory there.

We contacted Zhan and Tesla, but both were unavailable for comment at time of writing. The Beijing Third Intermediate Court will hear Zhan's trademark infringement allegations on August 5. ®

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