A case of ‘Well-Known Trademarks’: Tesla Cars and ‘Tesila’ Beer.
Tesla won a trademark infringement case against a food company who sold goods alluding to Tesla’s name, ‘Tesila Beer.’
Reported by Tesla China, the Shanghai High Court has ordered Zhongyin Food to cease the production, distribution and sale of ‘Tesila Beer.’ The Chinese food company has been found to be infringing upon a series of trademarks belonging to the American automotive company, including Tesla’s brand name and logo. Zhongyin Food has been ordered to pay USD 690,000 in damages to Tesla and to issue a public statement regarding the misuse of Tesla’s trademarks to mitigate any repercussions. An appeal has been made by Zhongyin Food to the court, but the original decision was upheld by the authorities.
According to reports, beverages such as ‘Tesila Soda’ and ‘Tesila Beer’ has been on the market since 2019. Marketing materials for the products, such as name and logo, insinuate close association with clean energy company Tesla. The products feature a T-shaped logo, including graphics featuring Tesla’s Model X luxury SUV.
While Tesla has released their own line of alcoholic beverages, the company has only ventured into the food and drink business in Europe. ‘Giga Beer’ was released in late 2021, but the company could not protect ‘Giga Beer’ as a trademark as German engineering firm Kabo KG registered for its trademark just 24 hours prior.
Although ‘Giga Beer’ has yet to enter the Chinese market, Tesla argued the company is highly recognised by the general public, both in China and worldwide, which grants Tesla’s trademark the title of a ‘well-known’ trademark. Well-known trademarks are granted greater protection and owners are able to enforce their rights against third parties with marks nearly resembling the original. Therefore, the ‘Tesila Beer’ mark has been judged as improperly used by the court due to Tesla’s reputable trademark as the general public are likely to associate ‘Tesila Beer’ to Tesla’s products and company. As a result, Zhongyin Food has been found to have infringed upon the trademarks owned by Tesla and are due damages rightfully paid to Tesla.