Tesla Motors is set for a name change – in China at least. The Palo Alto-based car company’s far-east operation is set to be known as Tuosule in the region.
The change of name isn’t because the word ‘Tesla’ means something rude in Mandarin, but because the name was trademarked by Zhan Baosheng in 2006. Tesla, the American motor company, didn’t attempt to claim the name there until 2009.
It therefore looks as if Tesla has given up on its name and instead settled on Tuosule, which apparently comes from a transliteration of “Tesla”. In other words, Tuosule is the Chinese sound you get when you substitute the English letters in the word for those in a dialect of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong. We think.
Tesla has gone to court twice over its name. It first attempted to reclaim the name “Tesla Motors,” by buying the name from its owner, Qiao Weiwei, although the name isn’t licensed for automotive use in the region. According to a report in InAutoNews, Tesla offered Baosheng $326,000 for the name, but he wanted a staggering $32 million.
Tesla will likely try to wrestle the name from Baosheng once more, arguing that because he has no plans to use it he should be forced to give up the copyright.
Trademark squatters aren’t a new phenomenon in China. Earlier this month, a car company attempted to patent a Volkswagen design before VW could even bring it to market.