Audi defeats Nio in legal dispute over ‘S’ designation

In the legal dispute between Audi and its Chinese rival Nio over the model designations ES6, ES7 and ES8, which has now been going on for over two years, the Munich Higher Regional Court has now also ruled in favour of Audi. Nio will probably not continue with its lawsuit.

Image: Nio

The dispute over trademark rights has been dragging on since October 2021. Nio wanted to launch three electric SUVs in Germany with the names ES6, ES7 and ES8 – the vehicles were already being sold under these names in China. Audi saw a risk of confusion with its own sporty S models S6, S7 and S8 – which is why Audi filed a lawsuit with the Munich Regional Court.

After the Regional Court ruled in favour of Audi in January 2023 following postponements, Nio appealed to the Higher Regional Court. An appeal hearing in January 2024 to reach an out-of-court settlement failed without result. With the judgement of the Munich Higher Regional Court, Audi is now likely to be the final winner in the trademark dispute.

“Although we are disappointed with the court’s decision, we would like to emphasise that the ruling of the Munich Higher Regional Court has no impact on our business and our users and we will continue to prioritise the needs of our users by offering smart premium electric vehicles and services across Europe,” Nio told the German publication Automobilwoche. Unlike in the past, the company has not immediately announced that it will exhaust all further legal avenues. Theoretically, Nio could still appeal to the Federal Court of Justice – if it accepts the case.

Ingolstadt is satisfied. An Audi spokesperson welcomed “the tenor of today’s judgement by the Munich Higher Regional Court and the associated protection of our brands”.

Whether Nio will continue to pursue legal action has not yet been officially decided, but is not very likely. Especially as it is only about the law itself and not the Nio model range. This is because the Chinese company has renamed all model ranges from the supposedly confusion-prone ‘ES’ to ‘EL’ for the European launch. (in German)


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