Tesla China has secured a legal win in its defamation suit against a popular car reviewer. The reviewer, who is known online as “Boss Cai,” was sued by the electric vehicle maker for reportedly damaging its reputation in China.
The saga started in 2021 when the popular car reviewer posted a video on Douyin (the local version of TikTok) claiming that a friend who worked as a supplier for Tesla had revealed some shocking information about the EV maker. “Boss Cai” claimed, among other things, that Tesla’s quality inspectors did a substandard job, and they allegedly used their position to gain personal favors.
In June 2022, Tesla China took legal action against “Boss Cai,” with the company stating that the false rumors promoted by the popular car reviewer damaged its reputation. Tesla also demanded that the reviewer pay 5 million yuan ($720,000) as compensation.
Court documents revealed some weaknesses in the car reviewer’s arguments. For one, “Boss Cai” reportedly stated that it was impossible to get the source of his information to testify in court because the pressure from the case caused him to forget his friend’s name, as noted in a Car News China report. Tesla also pointed out that the popular car reviewer promoted his own company in his videos against the EV maker.
In October 2022, Tesla’s case took a favorable turn after the court deemed the TikTok user’s video content as fabricated to insult and defame the EV maker. The court did, however, only issue a 100,000 yuan (about $14,400) fine to the car reviewer. Despite this, “Boss Cai” still appealed to the court, though the original verdict was later upheld.
As part of the court’s decision, “Boss Cai” would now have to post a public apology to Tesla within 15 days. The public apology must be kept up for at least 90 days in the popular car reviewer’s TikTok, WeChat, and Weibo accounts. He also must compensate Tesla 100,000 yuan for damages.