Vehicle names are one of the most important ways for potential buyers to identify them, and automakers have been quick to protect these brands. Audi just won such a case when a Munich court ruled that the Nio ES6, ES7, and ES8 were too similar to the S6, S7, and S8 available from Four Rings.
Nio may no longer advertise vehicles with that name in Germany. In the event of a breach, the company’s managing director could face a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($271,532 at current exchange rates) or six months’ imprisonment, according to Automobilwoche.
Audi S6 2023 Design Edition Package
Nio hasn’t sold the ES6 or ES7 in Germany yet. ES7 is available there, and the company has changed its name to EL7.
The English translation of part of the announcement of the court decision from the original German says:
“The Council explained that it is therefore expected that the relevant sections of the relevant public will understand the “E” in the sign contested and thus the only difference between the two marks is as descriptive in this sense and only as a reference for viewing the type of vehicle engine. There is a consumer risk of assuming that the “ES 6” is the “S 6″ in the electric version, and the two vehicles are from the same manufacturer. There is a risk of confusion through associations that go beyond pure association.”
The Nio ES6, ES7, and ES8 are electric crossovers. However, the Audi S6, S7, and S8 are four-door sedans. Four Rings has used the S-moniker for performance models since the 1990s.
This dispute is not over. In a statement to Automobilwoche, A Nio’s representatives said the company intends to appeal the ruling.
Audi filed a case against the Nio in 2022. The EV maker initially responded by removing the ES6 and ES8 badges from the vehicles when showing them.
Nio hasn’t sold the vehicle in the United States yet, but wants to. According to a report from 2022, the EV companies could arrive in the US by 2025. The brand started in China and started exporting products to Norway in 2021. Launched in Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark in 2022.
EVs are the future at Audi. The A6 E-Tron sedan will be launched later this year. The Avant wagon variant will join in 2024.