After years of fighting, Tesla has finally put its trademark dispute in China with businessman Zhan Baosheng behind it, thanks to an undisclosed settlement. The news comes at a perfect time for the automaker, which is still setting up its dealers there.
According to an email from Tesla cited by Bloomberg, the two sides came to an agreement "completely and amicably," but the business isn't revealing what it cost to resolve the conflict. As part of the settlement, Zhan is also transferring his ownership of the tesla.cn and teslamotors.cn over to the company. "Mr. Zhan has agreed to have the Chinese authorities complete the process of canceling the Tesla trademarks that he had registered or applied for, at no cost to Tesla," said the statement, according to Bloomberg. "Collectively, these actions remove any doubt with respect to Tesla's undisputed rights to its trademarks in China."
Zhan had claimed to hold the trademark on the Tesla name in China since 2009, but he was appealing a ruling by the country's courts invalidating those rights. The situation heated up even further in July when Zhan sued the automaker for trademark infringement and asked for 23.9 million yuan ($3.9 million) in damages, plus for the company shut down all of its operations there. Tesla had reportedly already attempted to settle with him years ago for 2 million yuan ($325,000 at current rates), but Zhan countered with a figure of the equivalent of over $32 million.
Tesla's Chinese business is absolutely booming at the moment. Since starting sales in April, the company is predicted to have moved around 1,000 examples of its Model S there at around $120,000 a pop. According to its second quarter financial release, it's only selling cars in four cities currently and expanding to two more in the near future.