Audi Files Lawsuit Against Chinese EV Maker NIO

Audi has filed a lawsuit against the Chinese EV manufacturer NIO in a Munich court over alleged trademark infringement, according to German media. The ES6 and ES8 models, are the ones at issue despite being electric SUVs. German daily Handelsblatt reports that Audi is arguing that the models may be confused with its sporty sedans– S6 and the S8, which are the performance versions of A6 and A8 sedans.

NIO is in the midst of a European expansion that began in Norway and will reach Germany by the fourth quarter of 2022. The first model it brings to Audi’s home market will be a sedan called the ET7, which is an Audi A6 competitor. However the Chinese automaker has been displaying the ES6 and ES8 at various auto shows in Europe and plans to introduce them in Germany as well.

Hence the German automaker is annoyed at NIO for choosing these model designations for the European market. According to an Audi official:

“Audi, like many successful companies, is also always concerned with comprehensively protecting its trademark rights. The ES6 and ES8 names we believe infringe on Audi trademarks.”

Not everyone thinks this will be a successful tactic, though. Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, a professor at the Center for Automotive Research in Duisberg told the German outlet that “the risk of confusion between an SUV and a sedan is pretty low.” Others call the suit counterproductive and warn that it might be received badly in China, a market where Audi makes a large number of sales.

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