Audi Loses EV Naming Lawsuit Against Chinese Automaker Nio In Europe

Electric Vehicles / 4 Comments

There's an easy fix out there for automakers.

Following a legal win by Audi in Munich, Germany, over Chinese automaker NIO's use of ES6, ES7, and ES8 nameplates for being too similar to established model names like the S6 and S8, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has decided that NIO's naming convention doesn't constitute a likelihood of confusion.

The original lawsuit was filed and judged at Munich's regional First Chamber for Commercial Matters, but it appears, and according to CnEVpost, the EUIPO outranks Munich and NIO's ES8 and ES6 trademarks will remain valid in the EU if Audi can't overturn the ruling.


Essentially, the municipal Munich court believed consumers could assume ES6 and ES8 are the electric versions of the S6 and S8. The European court doesn't think that NIO's model names infringe on Audi's S6 and S8 trademarks.

However, despite the block on ES7, a few hours before launch in Europe, NIO renamed its first model EL7. It's likely the Chinese carmaker decided it is too much hassle and costs too much time and money to defend the naming convention versus the cost of changing it before launch.


Our Take:

This whole situation is avoidable. We understand that giving cars actual names rather than giving them alphanumeric designations can be problematic as one word in one language, even if it's made up, can mean another thing in another language. That has happened in the past and sometimes with comic or ruinous effects.

However, alphanumerics are hard to remember and too easy to conflate, and there are only 26 letters to lead with - and many are already in heavy use. Off the top of our heads, letters to avoid are I, M, R, S, T, V, and Z, and then using A will likely bring out Ford's lawyers, and Y would bring out Tesla's suits. E will become increasingly problematic over time as so many brands want to use it to denote that a vehicle has an electric drivetrain.

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