In the conflict over advertising claims for its autopilot system in Germany, Tesla is not yet defeated – as was likely to be expected. This July, the Munich Regional Court followed the business association competition headquarters, which had sued certain autopilot statements on the Tesla website. As a result, CEO Elon Musk had already indicated that he was not taking the judgment seriously. It is now reported that Tesla has actually appealed against it – and that a decision will probably only be made in about a year.
Autopilot verdict in a year
The Munich Higher Regional Court has currently set the date for the new Tesla proceedings at the beginning of October 2021, reported Welt am Sonntag, citing a court spokesman. Even this date could be postponed again. And because the judgment is not yet final due to the appeal, Tesla can continue to advertise its autopilot system as before until the decision is made and will do so.
Because the members of the Competition Center (full name: Central Office for Combating Unfair Competition) also include the three German car companies, some saw the lawsuit as an attempt not to ensure fair competition, but to slow down a superior competitor. CEO Musk made fun of the German ruling in August: If Tesla is no longer allowed to call its system autopilot, Germany will also have to rename its autobahns, he said in a podcast.
As legally knowledgeable people told teslamag.de this summer, Tesla could have pulled out of the affair relatively easily after the verdict, but had to give in in a certain way: In Germany you can tell a lot in advertising and marketing, but at least you have to Limit explanatory texts if the presentation is exaggerated. Tesla did not do this, so the court found the term autopilot misleading. However, German competition law would have been sufficient with a simple asterisk text with explanations.
Tesla wins time to process
But instead of this pragmatic solution, Tesla opted for the appointment, which is not surprising in light of what Musk has said and the fact that he does not avoid legal proceedings. And so the assistance system in Germany is still called Autopilot without an asterisk, and the texts on the Tesla website also seem to have hardly changed since July (they already contained some restrictive information). With the appointment, Tesla has gained time. And given the performance of the latest autopilot version, which is currently in beta testing in the USA, the argument in court could be quite different in a year’s time.