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Audi’s EV naming lawsuit against NIO gets shot down in Europe

Audi’s attempt to block NIO from using the names ES8 and ES6 in Europe just took a turn after the European Union Intellectual Property Office shot down the German automaker’s request.

Audi EV naming lawsuit against NIO rejected in Europe

After initially seeing Chinese EV maker NIO in 2021, to protect the integrity of its S6 and S8 model names at the European Patent Office, a german court sided with Audi last month after a 15-month-long battle.

The German court ruled that two of NIO’s electric SUV models, the ES6 and ES8, sounded too closely to Audi’s existing S6 and S8 vehicle’s names.

Meanwhile, the judge explained that although NIO’s names are different from Audi’s, buyers may get confused, believing that the added E is just an “electric” Audi model, saying:

There is a risk that consumers will assume that the “ES 6” is the “S 6” in the electric version, that the two vehicles are from the same manufacturer. There is therefore a transfer danger of confusion through association that goes beyond pure association.

After launching its first EV in the region, the “ES7” model, NIO renamed it to EL7 to avoid possible backlash. The NIO EVs mentioned in the naming lawsuit by Audi are not yet available in Germany.

The ruling was not final, and NIO said at the time it would appeal the decision and defend its legal rights.

Despite winning the battle in Germany, it seems Audi is losing the overall war in Europe after the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled this week that NIO’s ES6 and ES8 models do not, in fact, constitute confusion, according to CnEVPost.

Top comment by EV Soon

Liked by 20 people

The Audi rings are one of the most identifiable logos in the world. The NIO logo is completely different. And, the S6 and S8 are sub-models of the A6 and A8. NIO ES models are SUVs, Audi S are sedans, their SUVs are Q. This was a nationalistic attack on a Chinese brand. Glad EU saw through it. Does Audi seriously think a consumer will walk into a clearly identifiable NIO store and think that they in an Audi dealership buying a sub-model of a sub-model of an ICE sedan converted to an electric SUV made by Audi? When people buy a Lexus LS400,500 etc, did they think they were buying "long" Merc S class? In the US, Lincoln sold an LS. was there confusion with Lexus there? There are plenty more. There are so many 3, 5 and 7 named cars, it's all just alphabet soup.

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The latest ruling means NIO’s ES8 and ES6 names will remain valid in Europe unless Audi overturns the EUIPO’s ruling.

Electrek’s Take

After the last court ruling, I said the EV naming lawsuit looks like a classic case of an established player picking on the new guy.

At the same time, they do sound familiar and could easily be confused, especially for those living in Europe who are used to seeing Audi’s S6 and S8 models and knowing the brand is going all electric.

NIO is quickly expanding its position in Europe with the launch of the EL7 and a growing number of Power Swap Stations. What do you think? Should NIO be forced to change its naming? Or is Audi just being a bully in its home court?

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Avatar for Peter Johnson Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is covering the auto industry’s step-by-step transformation to electric vehicles. He is an experienced investor, financial writer, and EV enthusiast. His enthusiasm for electric vehicles, primarily Tesla, is a significant reason he pursued a career in investments. If he isn’t telling you about his latest 10K findings, you can find him enjoying the outdoors or exercising