Tesla Takes Legal Action Against Indian Battery Maker Over Trademark Infringement

Tesla Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Delhi-based Tesla Power India Private Limited for trademark infringement and unfair trade competition. The Indian company has been using "impugned marks" encompassing Tesla's trademark, despite receiving a cease-and-desist notice in 2022.

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Tesla Takes Legal Action Against Indian Battery Maker Over Trademark Infringement

Tesla Takes Legal Action Against Indian Battery Maker Over Trademark Infringement

Tesla Inc., the electric vehicle giant led by Elon Musk, has filed a lawsuit against Delhi NCR-based battery company Tesla Power India Private Limited and its US-registered entity in the Delhi High Court. The lawsuit alleges trademark infringement and unfair trade competition, with Tesla seeking damages and a permanent injunction against the Indian firm.

Why this matters: The outcome of this case could have significant implications for the protection of intellectual property rights in India, particularly in the context of foreign companies expanding into the country. It also highlights the importance of trademark enforcement in the global market, where brand identity and reputation are crucial for business success.

The dispute began in April 2022 when Tesla discovered that Tesla Power India and its US entity were using "impugned marks" encompassing Tesla's trademark 'TESLA' in its entirety, along with the descriptive phrase 'POWER USA'. Despite receiving a cease-and-desist notice on April 18, 2022, the Indian company continued to advertise and market its goods under the infringing brand.

During a hearing at the Delhi High Court, Tesla presented evidence of the ongoing infringement, including screenshots from Tesla Power's website claiming the company was "acknowledged for being a pioneer and leader in introducing affordable batteries." In response, Tesla Power India CEO Kavinder Khurana argued that his company primarily focuses on lead acid batteries and has no plans to enter the electric vehicle market.

Manoj Pahwa, a representative for Tesla Power India, stated, "We have never claimed to be related to Elon Musk's Tesla." He emphasized that the Indian company predates Musk's Tesla in India and possesses all necessary government approvals. The judge has granted Tesla Power India three weeks to provide written responses and supporting documents for its defense.

The lawsuit comes at a time when Tesla is actively seeking to enter the Indian market with its electric vehicles. The company has been in discussions with the central government regarding import taxes and related matters. India recently relaxed import duties to encourage overseas automakers to export cars to the country, offering reduced taxes for electric vehicles if companies invest at least $500 million in local manufacturing efforts within a three-year window.

The next hearing for theTesla India trademark caseis scheduled for May 22, 2024. As the legal battle unfolds, it highlights the importance of protecting intellectual property rights in an increasingly competitive global market. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for both Tesla's expansion plans in India and the broader landscape of trademark enforcement in the country.

Key Takeaways

  • Tesla sues Indian firm Tesla Power India for trademark infringement and unfair trade competition.
  • Tesla Power India used "TESLA" mark with "POWER USA" phrase despite cease-and-desist notice.
  • Case highlights importance of IP protection in India for foreign companies expanding into the country.
  • Tesla seeks damages and permanent injunction against Indian firm.
  • Next hearing scheduled for May 22, 2024, with implications for Tesla's India expansion plans.