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Audi versus Nio: Audi wins in court in trademark dispute


ES6 and ES8: That's the name of two models from the e-car manufacturer Nio - at least in the home market of China. Insufficiently distinguishable from Audi's S6 and S8, judges the Munich Regional Court.

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Audi logo in Hanover: The first round in the trademark dispute goes to the German car manufacturer

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / dpa

Audi has prevailed in the name dispute over two electric car models against the Chinese car manufacturer Nio before the Munich Regional Court.

The court prohibited Nio from continuing to advertise the models called ES6 and ES8: There is a risk of confusion with the Audi models S6 and S8, according to the judges.

The additional letter "E" does not ensure sufficient distinctiveness because it is almost ubiquitous as an abbreviation for "Elektro".

It is therefore to be expected that many potential car buyers will only see this as an indication of the vehicle's engine type: consumers may assume that the ES6 is the electric version of the S6 and that both vehicles are from the same manufacturer.

At least in terms of sound, both brands would be mentally connected.

In October 2021, Audi sued for injunctive relief and damages and referred to the protection of its S6 and S8 brands at the European Patent Office.

The judgment is not final.

A Nio spokesman had said before the verdict was announced that Nio would likely appeal in the first instance if it were defeated.

However, the Chinese group had already given in last autumn.

The luxury SUV sold in China under the name ES7 is sold in Germany under the name EL7.

Also because of the ES7, Audi last year claimed a trademark infringement at the EU Intellectual Property Office.

You don't want to wait for the outcome of a legal dispute with an uncertain outcome and have therefore renamed your models, Nio co-founder Lihong Qin told SPIEGEL at the time.

It was not considered that ES sounds like S in German and that this could become a problem.

Nio has so far sold its ES6 and ES8 electric cars in China and Norway, but also wants to launch them in Germany.

Despite the concession in naming the model in Germany, one does not want to anticipate the results of the process, co-founder Qin told SPIEGEL in October.

The Chinese carmaker denied trademark infringement before the Munich Regional Court, arguing that the two Nio models are SUVs and the two Audis are limousines.

Nio came onto the market in Germany in autumn with the electric luxury sedan ET7, other Chinese manufacturers such as Polestar, Byd, Aiways, MG and Ora are already present in Germany.

Byd wants to sell 120,000 cars in Germany in four years.

Nevertheless, the share of Chinese car manufacturers in the German market is still in the per thousand range.

But 20 percent of the German Audi, BMW and Mercedes drivers surveyed by the management consultancy Berylls could basically imagine switching to a Chinese brand.

The car rental company Sixt wants to add 100,000 electric cars from Byd to its fleet over the next six years.


Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2023-01-19

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