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Tesla wins Autopilot, FSD “misleading” marketing lawsuit in Germany: report

Back in 2020, a Munich court ruled that Tesla was employing misleading marketing strategies in Germany due to the company’s use of the words “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” for its advanced driver-assist systems. The organization that filed the lawsuit was the Wettbewerbszentrale (Competition Center), a network of companies and one of the largest, most influential national self-regulatory institutions in Germany. 

The Competitor Center alleged that Tesla’s use of the words “Autopilot included” in its vehicles was misleading marketing since the EVs still require a driver to operate. The group also accused Tesla of selling its cars with the promise that they are capable of “automatic driving in town,” an apparent reference to City Streets driving, a feature of the company’s Full Self-Driving suite

Even when the reports of the lawsuit emerged, however, it was noted that Tesla could appeal the court’s ruling. And appeal the company did. The appeal was handled by the Higher Regional Court of Munich, which, in turn, ruled in Tesla’s favor last October. However, the decision itself was reportedly made public only recently, according to industry insider, which was able to confirm the verdict. 

The victory was an important one for Tesla, especially since the Competition Center was initially looking to ban the company’s use of words like “Autopilot” in its marketing. The Higher Regional Court of Munich rejected this suggestion, stating that anybody visiting Tesla’s website with the intention to purchase an electric vehicle is appropriately informed that the car they are purchasing is not fully autonomous

That being said, the Competition Center did have a minor win in its efforts to rein in Tesla’s alleged misleading marketing on Autopilot and FSD. Tesla had to alter some language on its official website in Germany when referring to its vehicles’ future features. In the case of FSD, for example, the system’s advanced functions would have to be listed with an estimated availability “in the near future” instead of “by the end of the year.”

Tesla’s successful appeal with the Higher Regional Court of Munich is reportedly final. Hopefully, Tesla will be equally successful in the United States, especially since the California Department of Motor Vehicles also initiated legal action against the electric vehicle maker over its use of the words “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” for its vehicles’ advanced features. Anita Gore, the California DMV’s Deputy Director for the Office of Public Affairs, noted that the legal action is aimed at preventing driver misunderstanding and misuse of new vehicle technologies. 

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