According to Automotive News, Zhan registered for the trademark in 2006 and was granted it in 2009, which was after the automaker was founded in the US in 2003 but before it began Chinese operations. The two sides have been fighting over the name for years. The business reportedly offered him two million yuan ($322,500 at current exchange rates) to buy the trademark in 2009, but Zhan allegedly came back with an astronomical counter-offer for the equivalent of $32 million.The company also nearly changed its localized brand name in China to Tuosule because Zhan owned the rights to its preferred Te Si La title, but the courts eventually sided with Tesla.
On his Twitter page, Zhan's profile says that he's "the owner of TESLA trademark in China." He also recently tweeted a photo of himself holding the trademark document.
It seems unlikely for Tesla to lose its Chinese trademark. So far, the courts have ruled in the company's favor over Zhan. According to Automotive News, the country's trademark regulator invalidated Zhan's rights to the name last year. However, he's appealing the ruling. A Tesla spokesperson told Automotive News that the company hasn't been served with the lawsuit from him yet. Scroll down to watch a brief video from Bloomberg going into more detail about the case.
hi, I am the owner of TESLA trademark in China. The trademark is still in my hand, Tesla Motors is lying. pic.twitter.com/IkuPkIIj4k- Zhan Baosheng (@chinese) June 24, 2014