Even in the dry world of trademark enforcement, sometimes jokes just write themselves.
At Tuesday’s Tesla shareholders meeting, Elon Musk joked that Ford is “killing sex.” But Tesla’s billionaire founder and CEO didn’t mean the Detroit automobile behemoth is literally putting a halt to lovemaking. He was talking about the name of his next-generation electric vehicle.
First came the Model S, the sexy sedan which Tesla can’t manufacture fast enough. An electric SUV crossover, the Model X, is in development. The planned third vehicle, Musk said, was going to be called the Model E — completing a juvenile name trifecta.
Unfortunately, Ford has already staked a claim to the letter E, with various trademarks filed back to 2000, although many of them were abandoned. Ford filed another new application for the Model E trademark in December, several months after Tesla. The California start-up abandoned its trademark effort last month, after Ford called and threatened to sue Tesla, according to Musk.
A Ford spokesperson released this statement on the matter: “In response to a request from Tesla for Ford’s assistance with a trademark issue, Ford and Tesla entered into a contract in 2010 in which, among other things, Telsa agreed not to register or use Model E. When Tesla later sought to register the Model E trademark, Ford insisted that Tesla abide by the parties’ earlier agreement. The matter has been resolved amicably.”
In other news, Musk assured investors that he would remain at Tesla for at least 4-5 more years. Theoretically, that would keep him through the third vehicle’s production ramp up. Musk is also CEO at rocket company SpaceX. ”Nobody is CEO of a company forever — eventually they carry you out,” Musk said.
Additionally, the company inches closer to a decision on the location for its new $5 billion battery “Gigafactory.”