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Tesla sues battery manufacturer Tesla Power India for trademark infringement

21 May 2024

Tesla sues battery manufacturer Tesla Power India for trademark infringement

Elon Musk-owned Tesla is suing Gurugram-based Tesla Power India for trademark infringement, passing off and unfair trade competition in India.

Tesla alleged that the Indian battery manufacturer and its associates illegally used Tesla’s trade name “Tesla” and the Tesla T logo. The American multinational electric vehicle (EV) maker issued a cease and desist notice to Tesla Power India in April 2022, which the latter ignored and continued using the former’s trade name and logo.

Meanwhile, a representative from Tesla Power India told Reuters they already had a presence in India long before Musk’s Tesla did. Tesla Power India also clarified in court that it has no plans to enter the EV manufacturing industry. However, the company promoted itself as a manufacturer of EVs in newspaper ads where it used Tesla’s registered marks.

Aditi Verma Thakur, Senior Partner, Ediplis Counsels, Bengaluru

As reported in a Business Standard article, Tesla Power India managing director Kavinder Khurana said the ads bearing the Tesla trademark were associated with e-Ashwa, a Noida-based manufacturer of environment-friendly battery-operated vehicles. He also revealed that e-Ashwa has entered into a partnership with Tesla Power India.

“Even though Tesla Power India operates in a different business domain of batteries, they have used references to entering the EV domain in some of their marketing materials. Additionally, Tesla’s T logo mark has been included in a few of Tesla Power India’s advertising materials. These facts have been noted by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the order disposing of interim applications filed with Tesla’s suit. Based on the above use by Tesla Power India, their case appears to be weak,” said Aditi Verma Thakur, senior partner at Ediplis Counsels in Bengaluru.

Thakur added that even if the Indian company, in the course of the suit or otherwise, did not use references to entering the EV industry in its marketing materials, Tesla’s case is stronger, being a brand of international repute. Indian trademark law recognizes the rights of trademark owners having an international or transborder reputation. “As Tesla appears to hold statutory rights in India prior to Tesla Power India, and if they are able to establish before the court that its transborder reputation has spilled over into India, it is highly likely that the suit gets decided in Tesla’s favour,” said Thakur.

The next hearing is scheduled on May 22, 2024. Tesla is seeking unspecified damages and a permanent injunction.

- Espie Angelica A. de Leon

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