Tesla China has won a high-profile trademark infringement lawsuit against the producer of “Tesla Beer” and “Tesla Soda”, underscoring the escalating battle brands wage to safeguard their identities.
The victory was delivered to Tesla after the defendant, a Chinese beverage company known as Sino Drinks Food Limited, appealed the original ruling. Tesla maintained that the defendent has infringed on its legal rights by making beer and soda products that use its lawful trademarks. It named the Chinese company and its subsidiary in Guangdong as well as a design company as defendants in the case.
The ruling recongized Tesla’s prestige and its series of trademarks. The defendant and producer of “Tesla Beer”, has been ordered to immediately cease infringing on Tesla’s esteemed trademarks, halt unfair competitive practices, and provide substantial compensation totaling RMB 5 million (US$774,000) to Tesla China.
Additionally, the judge also ordered the defendant to issue a public statement in prominent newspapers to counterbalance any negative fallout from the infringement.
Established in 2019 in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, Sino Drinks Food Limited has applied for 221 trademarks, some of which are linked to “Tesla.” These include variations like “TESILA,” “特斯拉金质” (Tesla Gold), “特斯拉臻品” (Tesla Premium), and “特丝拉” (Tesila). It also trademarked over 30 names that are related to new coronavirus, but eventually withdrew the trademarks after a nationwide clampdown on illegal Covid products.
The crux of the dispute traces back to 2019 when a series of alcoholic beverages, bearing the names “Tesla Soda” and “Tesla Beer,” emerged on the market. Featuring a distinctive T-shaped logo, these drinks were marketed with slogans that boasted of being the “Pioneer Brand of Pre-Mixed Spirits in the US” and an “International Vanguard Brand.” Notably, promotional materials even featured imagery of the iconic Tesla Model X vehicle.
Interestingly, while Tesla does have its own tequila, this marks the company’s first public confrontation over the usage of its brand in alcoholic beverages beyond that.
The legal episode adds Tesla’s name to the growing roster of brands battling trademark infringement, a phenomenon that has become alarmingly rampant. The world of wine, for instance, witnessed the prolonged skirmish involving Australian wine icon Penfolds. Numerous counterfeiters, seeking to profit from Penfolds’ popularity in the local Chinese market, flooded the market with dubious bottles, threatening both the brand’s reputation and consumer trust.