BELGIUM: Tesla settles trademark dispute with Czech-based company

By just-auto.com editorial team | 3 December 2010

Tesla Motors has settled a trademark dispute in Europe with a Soviet-era maker of old black and white televisions.

The California-based electric car maker's applications for the Tesla trademark in the EU has stalled on opposition from Tesla Holding as, a 90-year-old supplier of communications and broadcast equipment based in the Czech Republic.

Tesla Motors has settled the matter by filing amended trademark applications with the EU's Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market. According to OHIM data, the Czech firm had filed oppositions to Tesla Motors' applications for the Tesla mark in 2007 and earlier this year. Those oppositions have now been withdrawn.

Tesla Holding is a successor to the massive, state-owned Tesla conglomerate that churned out communist-era electronics.

Pre-1989, hotel rooms in what was then Czechoslovakia were often equipped with a small, black and white Tesla TV. The company also provided transceivers for more than 60% of the radio and TV broadcasts in the former Soviet Union.

After the fall of communism, Tesla Holding was privatised. In 2007, it was acquired by Prague-based investment firm Kilcullen Kapital Partners.

The Czech firm now offers technologies for water treatment and military communications, while guarding a trademark it claims to have registered in dozens of countries.

Tesla Motors said it has amended its trademark applications to overcome any objection of Tesla Holding.

Tesla Holding confirmed that it has withdrawn its opposition, adding that Tesla Motors' amended trademark applications now better reflect the "different business focus of our companies".

Tesla Motors disclosed the trademark dispute in a regulatory filing for its initial public offering of shares, which took place in June. The company did not identify the trademark owner claiming prior rights.