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Tesla Motors resolves dispute with Chinese 'trademark troll'

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Ng Han Guan/AP/File

(Read caption) A worker cleans a Tesla Model S sedan before a event to deliver the first set of cars to customers in Beijing. Tesla Motors has resolved a trademark dispute with a Chinese businessman.

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Tesla seems finally to have resolved its copyright issues in China.

Thanks to a local "trademark troll," the electric-car maker was initially forced to sell cars in China with no name.

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The issue had appeared to be resolved when a Chinese court ruled in favor of Tesla, but then last month, the company was slapped with a lawsuit.

Now, Tesla says it has "completely and amicably" resolved the trademark dispute, according to a new report from Reuters.

The electric-car maker reached an unspecified agreement with Zhan Baosheng, the Guangdong-based businessman who registered the Tesla name as a trademark in China--in two languages--back in 2006.

Baosheng hoped to sell the trademarks back to Tesla, which was forced to consider selling cars under a phonetic name like Te Su Le if a deal couldn't be made.

The carmaker appeared to be winning the battle when a Chinese court decision rendered Baosheng's claims on the Tesla name invalid.

However, Baosheng appealed the decision and filed a lawsuit against Tesla, demanding the company cease operations in China, shut its showrooms, service centers, and charging stations, and pay him $3.9 million in compensation.

Tesla presumably isn't doing that, although the details of the agreement with Baosheng were not released.

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Baosheng reportedly agreed to let Chinese authorities complete the process of cancelling his trademarks at no cost to Tesla. He will also transfer certain domain names--including tesla.cn and teslamotors.cn--to Tesla.

With the rights to its name secured, Tesla can focus on actually selling cars in China, which it believes will be one of its largest global markets.

The company hopes to build electric cars there within three or four years.


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