Prohibit the use of ES6/ES8 names! NIO loses the lawsuit in Germany.

Recently, the trademark dispute case between NIO and Audi has welcomed the second-instance judgment. According to the news from the Higher Regional Court in Munich, Germany, in the trademark dispute case between NIO and Audi, Audi won the lawsuit, and NIO automobiles are not allowed to sell electric vehicles with the trademark of ES + digital form in Germany.

The trademark dispute between the two parties began in June 2022. According to the information from the Higher Regional Court in Munich, Germany, “Although the letters E added in the logo of NIO are distinctly different in terms of text and sound from the Audi S series car’s trademark right, in this case, the addition of the letter E does not provide sufficient distinction. Considering the average uniqueness of the trademark and the existing characteristics of the goods, these two are at least mutually related in terms of sound, which will lead to the risk of indirect confusion.”

At that time, in response to the judgment result, NIO did not recognize it. Qin Lihong, the co-founder of NIO, said in an interview with the media when accepting the interview: The result of this judgment is the first instance, not the final judgment. NIO will appeal firmly and use legal means to safeguard its own legitimate rights and interests. Regarding the lawsuit that NIO ES6 and ES8 infringe on the trademark rights of Audi, an Audi spokesperson once said: “Like other successful enterprises, Audi pays attention to protecting trademark rights, and according to our understanding, NIO has damaged our trademark according to our understanding.”

It is worth mentioning that at that time, the lawsuit filed by Audi against NIO did not receive the support of people inside and outside the industry. Some industry professionals once pointed out: The positioning of NIO ES6 and ES8 as medium-sized SUVs does not conflict with the positioning of Audi S6 and S8. The probability of users confusing NIO ES6 and ES8 is not high. The lawsuit filed by Audi against NIO is not friendly.

At present, the two models of NIO ES6 and ES8 have not been listed in Germany, and only three models of ET7, ET5, and ES7 were released in the German market in 2022. At that time, the official changed the name of the NIO ES7 model to “EL7”. At that time, in response to this adjustment of NIO, many industry insiders guessed that it might be related to Audi’s lawsuit against NIO for infringing on trademarks.

At that time, NIO also responded to the matter of changing the name of the ES7: Since the company was founded, it has insisted on originality, and has carried out systematic thinking on the naming of models. It has started to apply globally since 2016 and has successfully registered in most markets in China, Europe, and the United States. Unfortunately, Audi has questioned the names of the NIO ES8/ES6 models and initiated a lawsuit in Germany. In view of the possible protracted litigation, in order to avoid affecting the interests of users in Europe, NIO has decided to use the model name EL7 in Europe for the time being. For the ongoing related trademark lawsuits in Germany, NIO will continue to respond to the lawsuit.

For why Audi automobiles want to accuse NIO of trademark infringement, it may be related to NIO’s entry into Germany threatening Audi’s position and Audi’s own slow electrification transformation to a certain extent. As we all know, Germany is the base of Audi, and ES8 and ES6, as the earliest models released by NIO automobiles, have a certain reputation in the market. In 2022, NIO began to accelerate the global layout and announced to expand its products to Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, and other places. According to the plan, by 2025, NIO also plans to enter more than 25 countries and regions. In this context, entering the German market has more or less brought certain pressure to Audi automobiles.

At the same time, the product competitiveness of Audi in electric vehicles is not obvious. Taking the Chinese market as an example, the electricized products of Audi on sale do not perform well in the market. Data shows that in 2022, Audi’s global sales of pure electric vehicles accumulated 118,200 units, while NIO delivered 122,500 units. According to Audi’s official plan, it plans to only launch electric vehicles from 2026, and to produce only pure electric vehicles in all factories from 2029, and to gradually stop the production of fuel vehicles from 2033. Of course, some industry insiders pointed out that the lawsuit filed by Audi against NIO may have something to do with Audi’s plan to launch the pure electric version of S6 and S8, but there is no plan for the announcement of the pure electric version of S6 and S8 by Audi yet, which still needs to be released by the subsequent official.

Although Audi has won this time, referring to the statement made by NIO when it lost the first-instance judgment, the impact of this loss on NIO is not significant. Earlier, NIO once said: The first-instance ruling has no impact on our business and users, and we will continue to give priority to the needs of users by providing smart high-end electric vehicles and services in Europe.

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