Audi has filed a lawsuit against Chinese electric vehicle startup Nio, alleging that the latter’s use of the “ES6” and “ES8” names for its vehicles infringes on Audi’s “S6” and “S8” trademark rights. In the lawsuit, Audi said that it has been using the “S6” and “S8” names for its high-performance vehicles since 1991 and 1996 respectively, and that the names have become “well-known” in China.
Audi added that Nio’s use of the “ES6” and “ES8” names for its electric vehicles is likely to cause confusion among consumers, as they are “substantially similar” to Audi’s “S6” and “S8” names. Audi is seeking damages and an injunction against Nio to stop the Chinese company from using the “ES6” and “ES8” names.
This is not the first time that Audi has taken legal action against a Chinese automaker over alleged trademark infringement. In 2016, the German automaker sued Chinese car company Qoros for using a logo that was “substantially similar” to Audi’s four-ring logo.
Audi has also been embroiled in a legal battle with another Chinese electric vehicle startup, Xiaopeng Motors, over the latter’s use of the “G3” name for one of its vehicles. Audi claimed that Xiaopeng’s use of the “G3” name infringed on its rights to the “A3” name. The lawsuit is just the latest development in the intensifying competition between traditional automakers and new-entrant electric vehicle startups in China.
China is currently the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, and many foreign automakers are looking to capitalize on the growing demand for EVs in the country. However, they face stiff competition from a number of well-funded Chinese startups that are quickly gaining ground in the EV space. Nio, for instance, has managed to raise billions of dollars from investors including Tencent Holdings and Sequoia Capital. The company is currently developing a number of electric vehicles, including the ES6 SUV and the ES8 seven-seater SUV.
Xiaopeng, meanwhile, has raised over $1 billion from investors such as Alibaba Group Holding and Foxconn Technology Group. The Chinese startup is currently working on a number of electric vehicles, including the G3 SUV and the P7 sedan.
It remains to be seen how Audi’s lawsuit against Nio will play out, but it is clear that the competition in China’s electric vehicle market is only heating up.