European intellectual property authorities have ruled that NIO's ES8 and ES6 and Audi's S8 and S6 do not constitute a likelihood of confusion.
(Image credit: CnEVPost)
A month ago, a German court ruled in favor of Audi in a lawsuit against NIO (NYSE: NIO) in the first instance. Now, NIO has won the support of a local intellectual property agency.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled on February 21 that NIO's ES8 and ES6 and Audi's S8 and S6 do not constitute a likelihood of confusion and thus rejected Audi's request, according to documents seen by CnEVPost.
Previously, Audi filed trademark invalidation proceedings against NIO's EU-registered ES8 and ES6.
The latest development means that NIO's ES8 and ES6 trademarks will remain valid in the EU unless Audi overturns the EUIPO's ruling.
Audi filed a lawsuit against NIO in a Munich court last year, alleging that the latter's ES6 and ES8 SUV models infringe its trademark rights. Audi has been selling the S6 and S8 sports sedans for several years.
On January 19, the court supported Audi's request, ruling that NIO's ES8 and ES6 infringed on Audi's S8 and S6 trademarks. NIO subsequently appealed.
The German court ruled at the time that the NIO ES6 and ES8 sounded too similar to Audi's existing S6 and S8 models.
While the judge did note that NIO's name was in fact different from Audi's, the letter "E" was not enough to distinguish the difference because it could be confused with Audi's electric models.
Consumers might think it's just a switch from a gasoline-powered Audi to an electric vehicle, the judge said.
NIO said at the time that it regretted the ruling and would appeal to defend its legal rights.
Notably, NIO has not yet started selling the ES6 or ES8 in Germany, the latter of which is available in Europe only in Norway.
On October 7, 2022, NIO launched the ET7, ET5 and the SUV known as ES7 in China in Europe at the NIO Berlin event.
A few hours before the launch, however, NIO changed the name of the ES7 in Europe to EL7.
In a response shared with local media outlet Sina Tech, NIO said at the time that it has been making global registration applications for trademarks since 2016 and has received successful registrations in China and most markets in Europe and the US.
Unfortunately, however, Audi challenged the names of the NIO ES8 and ES6 models and launched a lawsuit in Germany, NIO said at the time.
Given that the lawsuit could be protracted, NIO decided to use the model name EL7 in Europe in order to avoid affecting the interests of customers in Europe.