Some people will do anything to make a buck, and trademark squatting is one way to make fast and easy money. Zhan Baosheng thought he could fleece Tesla Motors for $32 million by trademarking the “Tesla” name, so rather than pay up, Tesla will simply go by another name in China; “Tuosule”, the transliteration of the Tesla name in a dialect native to Hong Kong.
Telsa Motors has offered Baosheng $326,000 for him to release his rights to the “Tesla” name, just 1% of his absurd asking price of $32 million. The electric automaker is also taking Baosheng to court, arguing that despite launching a half-assed website, the Chinese trademark owner has no intention or ability to launch an all-electric vehicle. Baosheng trademarked the name back in 2006, before the Tesla Model S ever saw the light of day.
But in case the court fails to side with Tesla, the electric automaker is moving forward with the Tousule name on the Chinese mainland. While Tesla is said to be readying a Hong Kong showroom twice the size of the normal American showroom, the company will only be able to take orders for now; actual sales of the Tesla Model S will come later.
This story isn’t over yet, and Tesla stands to gain big from sales in China, which are already said to be in the 100s. But is a Tesla by another name still a Tesla?