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May 4, 2024

Tesla vs. Tesla Power: Legal Battle Over Trademark Infringement Heats Up in India

Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. has launched a legal battle against Indian battery maker Tesla Power for alleged trademark infringement and unfair trade competition, escalating tensions in the burgeoning Indian electric vehicle (EV) market. The lawsuit, filed in the Delhi High Court, accuses Tesla Power of unauthorized use of Tesla’s trademark ‘TESLA’ and claims that the battery company is encroaching upon Tesla’s core market.

According to documents filed with the Delhi HC, Tesla Inc. discovered in April 2022 that Tesla Power India Private Limited and its US-based entity were using marks that incorporated the ‘TESLA’ trademark along with the descriptive phrase ‘POWER USA’. Additionally, Tesla Inc. pointed out that Tesla Power had announced its entry into the EV market through online promotional articles, indicating a potential overlap with Tesla’s business domain.

A screenshot of an Indian publication showed Tesla Power’s announcement titled “Tesla announces bringing EV Scooters, charging stations to shops by 2025”, while another screenshot from Tesla Power’s website touted the company as a pioneer in introducing affordable batteries.

Following the discovery, Tesla Inc. issued a cease-and-desist notice to Tesla Power on April 18, 2022. However, the battery company continued to market its goods, prompting Tesla Inc. to pursue legal action.

During the court hearing, Kavinder Khurana, CEO of Tesla Power India Private Limited, clarified that Tesla Power USA Inc. no longer existed and that their focus was on lead-acid batteries for automobiles, inverters, and UPS systems. He emphasi

zed that Tesla Power had no plans to manufacture EVs and would not market other entities’ EVs under its trademark or any deceptively similar brand.

The next hearing in the trademark case is scheduled for May 22.

This legal dispute arises as Elon Musk’s Tesla aims to penetrate the Indian market with its EV products, engaging in discussions with the government on import tax and related matters. The case underscores the challenges faced by multinational companies in protecting their intellectual property rights in emerging markets like India.

Trademark infringement cases have become increasingly common among startups and tech companies in India. In 2022, the Delhi HC permanently restrained a Bengaluru-based cakery from using Facebook-related trademarks for its products. Similarly, last year, a Bengaluru-based startup sought to restrain Zomato’s quick commerce arm from using its trademark, leading to a legal battle that reached the Supreme Court.

The outcome of the Tesla vs. Tesla Power case will likely have significant implications for the Indian automotive industry and the broader landscape of intellectual property rights enforcement in the country.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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