The court’s decision means Germany can ban Tesla using the name “Autopilot” to describe a feature in Tesla cars that maintains speed and lane position automatically.
Ever noticed how planes have Autopilot, but they still have two human pilots?— Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) July 14, 2020
“Autopilot does not replace human operators. Instead Autopilot assist’s the operator’s control of the vehicle, allowing the operator to focus on brorader aspects of operation”https://t.co/R4Qkt9ooXj pic.twitter.com/BkYLQVX8TG
In a case brought by a German organisation focusing on industrial anti-competitor practices called the Wettbewerbszentrale, a court in Munich ruled that calling the feature autopilot exaggerated its capabilities.
“In the board’s opinion, both the advertising message as a whole and the components separately attacked by the plaintiff are misleading commercial acts … Because the use of the relevant terms and formulations arouses a notion that is inconsistent with the actual circumstances among the relevant public – in this case, the average consumer,” the court ruled.
But Musk reckons the court got it wrong.
“Tesla autopilot was literally named after the term used in aviation,” Musk responded to a person who tweeted a screenshot of the Wikipedia entry for autopilot.
“Autopilot does not replace human operators. Instead, autopilot assists the operator’s control of the vehicle, allowing the operator to focus on broader aspects of operations”, reads the crowdsourced encyclopaedia, which courts have previously ruled inadmissable.
While its name and features are consistent with the similar technology used for air travel, given a Tesla car is more readily available to “the average consumer” than a jet plane, the court applied different standards.