Elon Musk Tweet Inspires Fan to File Boat Trademark On Behalf of Tesla — Without Telling Tesla

A Tesla superfan said they filed a trademark application for boats because Elon Musk mentioned the Cybertruck might be able to go in the water.

learn more about Gabrielle Bienasz

By Gabrielle Bienasz

Tesla.
The Cybertruck.

There are fans — and then there are fans who want to help you deal with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

And that's just what one loyal fan did on behalf of the company, according to Bloomberg.

Tesla superfan Jerome Eady filed a trademark application on December 28 — with the Tesla company listed as the owner of the trademark — for "not for land vehicles."

The trademark would give the company protection, from a general IP perspective, to sell a Tesla-branded product that was covered by this trademark application, and then sue anyone who was using its name to sell such a product.

The application covers, per the trademark filing application page, "asynchronous motors not for land vehicles," including airplane and boat motors.

Typically, a company's trademark filings are indicators of the company's plans to expand into other products.

And, as such, news outlets started reporting that Tesla had filed the application and was planning to potentially expand into boats and airplanes. But that wasn't exactly what happened.

Eady, who spoke with Bloomberg via the phone, said that he did it "proactively" on the company's behalf because Elon Musk said in September that Tesla's planned Cybertruck product — an electric vehicle truck that you can reserve online for $100 — could be a short-term boat.

Keegan Caldwell, founder and managing member of an intellectual property firm, told Entrepreneur that takes about an hour and a half to file an initial trademark application. (The entire trademark process takes 12 to 18 months, per the USPTO.)

Typically, customers do not engage in proactive IP management on behalf of their favorite companies, Caldwell said.

"Eady said he has no affiliation with Tesla and the filing was made without the company's knowledge," Bloomberg wrote.

"It's a surprise to see something like this happen," Caldwell added. "It is exceedingly rare."

The trademark application's status was last updated on December 31 and is waiting to be assigned to an attorney to review it.

Caldwell is also not sure if a trademark can be filed on behalf of Tesla, or any company, without that specific company signing it or endorsing it in some way.

Related: From Using Children As Props to Embedding Car Keys In a Hand, Tesla Owners Are a Passionate Bunch

Regardless of actions taken by Tesla superfans, the company does have an interesting approach to IP. Tesla said in 2014 it would not sue to enforce its patents (which have to do with technical advancements, not branding, like trademarks) in most cases, as long as they were being used in "good faith."

But Tesla has not taken such a hands-off approach when it comes to enforcing its trademarks. It sued an accessories seller that was using the Tesla name and trademark in March for trademark infringement, for example.

The attorney listed on Eady's application had a Washington, D.C.-based address. Entrepreneur was unable to reach them for comment.

Gabrielle Bienasz

Entrepreneur Staff

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

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