Tesla’s trademark tussle in India

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Firm News |

Elon Musk’s Tesla is taking legal action against an Indian battery company for using the name “Tesla Power.” The U.S. carmaker (which also makes its own batteries) claims that this name infringes on its trademark rights and has asked a court in New Delhi to put a stop to it. Tesla wants damages and a permanent order to prevent the Indian company from using the name.

Courtroom confrontation over Tesla Power

At a recent court hearing, Tesla Power India Pvt. Ltd, which launched in 2020 and specializes in making lead acid batteries used in gas-powered cars, insisted that it had no plans to enter the electric vehicle market and that it simply wanted to sell its products under the “Tesla Power” name. Despite being warned to stop by Tesla, Inc. in April 2022, the company kept using the name and now has a million customers in India. The judge gave the Indian firm three weeks to provide a written response to Tesla’s accusations.

The inspiration for both Teslas was Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, and polymath Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), who obtained obtained hundreds of patents and invented, among other things, alternating current electrical supply that is widely used in motors and transmission equipment.

A tale of two Teslas

The two companies with the name “Tesla” have companies incorporated in Delaware. The U.S. Tesla has pointed out that the Indian company is not only using the name “Tesla Power” but also “Tesla Power USA.” Evidence presented in court included website screenshots showing the latter name associated with a strong market presence in India.

Claims and counterclaims

A representative from Tesla Power in India stated that their company was around before Elon Musk’s Tesla, but they have been unclear about when they actually started selling batteries using the name Tesla.  They stressed that they never pretended to be connected to Musk’s Tesla. Meanwhile, Tesla has told the court that they only became aware of the Indian company using their brand name in 2022, and despite their efforts to resolve the matter, they’ve had to resort to legal action.

Musk’s moves and the case’s continuation

This lawsuit follows closely on the heels of Musk canceling a trip to India where he was supposed to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Instead, he unexpectedly went to China, which caused quite a stir among Indian observers. At present it appears that the Indian company is only actually selling product under the mark in India, and not in the United States. Watch this space as the dispute between the two “Teslas” unfolds.