Just when it thought it was safe to get back in the trademark waters, Tesla has been hit again with a trademark roadblock - this time in China.

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Tesla had apparently thought it was over its China problem and it had appeared to move on to a trademark dispute with Ford regarding its Model E Model ?, when problems in China then reared their ugly heads. A Chinese man with whom Tesla had thought it come to an agreement with has now sued for trademark infringement to stop the Silicon Valley automaker from further marketing and sales, seeks to shut down its showrooms and supercharger network … ohh … and seeks over three million dollars.

The problems encountered by Tesla in China relative to trademarks has been echoed by others, such as Apple, which has had its own issues relative to the use of IPAD in China and the Cupertino company reached its own multimillion dollar agreement to facilitate the entry of its top selling tablet into one of the world's largest markets.

The desirability and enforceability of intellectual property protection - trademark rights in this case - in China is an issue which is raised often as companies of more modest means than Apple and Tesla decide whether or not to enter China.  A key question is the likelihood of protection of their intellectual property rights in China if it was ever to become necessary. As shown by the Tesla test case, it could be that things are never really decided as much as one may like in China. However, it is also clear that there is no likelihood of protection at all if steps are not taken to procure one's trademark (and other IP rights) in China. The question of course is whether or not the risk is worth the potential business reward of doing business in one of the world's largest markets. Lucky for the rest of us, Tesla and Apple may lead the way …