Audi scores major legal victory in case against NIO over ES6 and ES8 naming
Bavaria-based luxury car maker Audi scored a major legal victory as it won a significant copyright case against Chinese EV maker NIO Incorporated. Audi dragged NIO to court of law alleging that the names of Chinese manufacturer’s ES6 and ES8 EVs infringe on its trademark rights because they could be mistakenly interpreted as being electric versions of its S6 and S8 performance models.
Siding with the German manufacturer, the Munich Regional Court ruled that the name of NIO’s EVs are really too similar to the Audi models and thus they could be confuse potential buyers.
The judge said in his ruling that the names of the Chinese automaker’s electric models are factually different from Audi’s models, but even then, the use of additional letter E is not as much as necessary to adequately differentiate them. Thus, concerned models are mentally linked, at least in terms of sound.
Siding with Audi, the judge ruled, “There is a risk that consumers will assume that the ‘ES 6’ is the ‘S 6’ in the electric version and that the two vehicles are from the same manufacturer. There is therefore a transfer danger of confusion through association that goes beyond pure association.”
The German automaker dragged the Chinese automaker to court back in the mid of 2022 when it argued that NIO has knowingly named its electric models in such a way that they sound similar to Audi’s models, despite that fact that NIO models are SUVs and Audi models are sedans. Now, around a year later, Audi scored victory in the legal battle.
However, the court’s ruling hasn’t put a full stop to the legal battle as the Chinese manufacturer can file for an appeal.
It is also worth-mentioning here that NIO can continue to sell the ES7 in the German market as it has already been renamed as the EL7. In simple words, Audi will be able to advertize and sell its ES6 and ES8 models in Germany only after it changing their names.
For the time being, the Chinese manufacturer has been prohibited from advertising its ES6 and ES8 models in the German market. If it fails to comply with the court’s order, it could be slapped with a fine of up to 250,000 Euros (approx. $270,000) or up to 6 months in prison for its managing director.