Audi claims that the NIO ES6 and ES8 naming infringes on the trademark rights of two of its models, the S6 and S8.
(Image credit: CnEVPost)
Volkswagen's luxury brand Audi has filed a lawsuit against NIO in a Munich court, alleging that some of the latter's models offered for the first time in Europe would infringe Audi's trademark rights, according to a report by German media outlet Handelsblatt today.
Specifically, the dispute is over NIO's ES6 and ES8 SUV models. Audi has been selling two sporty sedans with the model names S6 and S8 for several years, according to the report.
According to Audi's argument, the model names of NIO's electric vehicles are very close to those of Audi models launched some time ago, the report said.
"Like many successful companies, Audi is always careful to protect its trademark rights comprehensively," a company spokesman confirmed the procedure, according to the report.
The opponent had chosen model names for the European market "which, in our opinion, infringe Audi brands," the spokesman said.
The lawsuit is an unexpected disruption for NIO (NYSE: NIO, HKG: 9866, SGX: NIO), which is just starting to enter the European market and has been selling its cars in China for a long time, the report noted.
NIO announced its official entry into Norway on May 6 of last year, the company's first stop overseas.
The company's first model offered in Norway is the ES8 SUV, and its flagship sedan, the ET7, is also expected to be available in the country in 2022.
At the NIO Day 2021 event on December 18, William Li, founder, chairman and CEO of NIO, said that NIO will enter Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark in 2022.
The company opened its first local NIO Service Center in Norway on May 12 and delivered its 500th vehicle in the country at the opening ceremony.
NIO plans to open a second NIO House in Norway in the country, with a total area of 312 square meters, according to the Norwegian version of the NIO app posted on May 25.
The lawsuit from Audi comes at a time when NIO is stepping up its efforts in Europe.
The company made an internal announcement on June 1 about an organizational restructuring to reorganize the management of its European operations to increase its efforts here, according to several local media reports.
Notably, NIO is seeing more success in China's premium EV market, while Audi does not have an EV model offering that is considered competitive in the world's largest automotive market.
With 1,707 retail sales in May, the NIO ET7 ranked ninth in China in sales of premium sedans starting at more than RMB 300,000 ($44,820), according to data released by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) on June 10.
Deliveries of the model began on March 28, and May was its second full month of delivery and second consecutive month on the list.
In its first full delivery month, the NIO ET7 sold 693 units at retail in April, ranking 10th among premium sedans, according to the CPCA's list released last month.
In China's high-end battery electric vehicle market, which costs more than RMB 300,000, NIO sales in March were more than BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi combined, according to data released by the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) on April 15.
NIO's sales of 9,829 units in March were higher than BMW's 3,123 EV sales in China, Mercedes-Benz's 1,199 and Audi's 116, according to the data.