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Manchester chicken shop boss loses £12,000 in Tesla trademark row

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Amanj Ali, the proprietor of Colorado’s Chicken in Bury, Greater Manchester, finds himself at a loss of £12,000 after a trademark dispute with Tesla resulted in a ruling against him.

Ali, 41, had registered the trademark “Tesla Chicken & Pizza” for his new takeaway venture, sparking opposition from the electric car manufacturer Tesla.

Ali’s inspiration for the trademark stemmed from his admiration for Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, shared with the motoring giant. Despite Tesla’s initial lack of objection within the standard two-month period after registration, complications arose in November 2021 when Tesla sought protection for its trademark in the food and drink category in the UK, including restaurant services.

Fearing that Tesla’s registration would threaten his own business aspirations, Ali opposed the move. However, in September 2022, Tesla applied to invalidate Ali’s trademark, arguing that its established reputation would be exploited by Ali’s use of the “Tesla” name.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) sided with Tesla, ordering Ali to pay £4,000 in damages. Combined with legal fees amounting to approximately £8,000, Ali found himself significantly out of pocket. Despite Tesla’s attempt to bolster its case with claims of “anticipatory goodwill” based on a tweet by Elon Musk, the IPO dismissed such arguments.

Ali, a small businessman, expressed the toll the two-year dispute took on him, both financially and emotionally. He cited stress and sleepless nights, lamenting the power imbalance between himself and the corporate giant. Ali also refuted claims that he had attempted to sell his trademark for £750,000, attributing the misunderstanding to an error by his solicitor.

The case highlights a trend of major corporations aggressively protecting their trademarks, often at the expense of smaller businesses. For Ali, the battle may have ended in defeat, but the experience serves as a cautionary tale for entrepreneurs navigating the complex world of intellectual property rights.

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