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July 26, 2017

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Tesla settles trademark row with China businessman

BEIJING--Electric carmaker Tesla on Thursday said it has resolved a dispute with a Chinese businessman over the use of its trademarks in the country "at no cost" to the firm.

Zhan Baosheng, said to be the founder of a cosmetics website in Guangzhou in the southern province of Guangdong, registered "Tesla" as a trademark in China in 2009 for 12 kinds of products including cars, according to a court in Beijing.

The automaker sued Zhan last year for copyright infringement and illicit competition, seeking a total of 4.2 million yuan (US$682,000) in compensation, the court said in a posting on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

In turn Zhan launched an action of his own, demanding Tesla close its showrooms, service centers and charging facilities in China, terminate all sales and marketing activities in the country and pay him 23.94 million yuan in compensation, the court said.

But the two sides agreed to settle, with Zhan giving up his rights and claims to the trademarks and logos while Tesla dropped its compensation demand, it added.

In its own statement, the company said the dispute had been "completely and amicably" resolved.

"Collectively, these actions remove any doubt with respect to Tesla's undisputed rights to its trademarks in China," it said.

At the same time, the firm had agreed to buy domain names including and from Zhan, it added without disclosing a value.

But it dismissed speculations that Tesla has granted Zhan rights to deal its cars in Guangdong.

Tesla previously denounced Zhan's lawsuit as an attempt to "steal" its property and "without any conceivable merit."

It said Thursday that it "would like to thank Mr. Zhan for his efforts in amicably reaching these agreements and wishes him the best."

The groundbreaking manufacturer, which has stressed that its Model S battery-powered car has the same base price in China as in the U.S., added that it "looks forward to continuing to grow its business" in the country.

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