Tesla got hot in Germany with its Autopilot

The use of the term “Autopilot” by Tesla is quite controversial, but for the moment, justice still authorizes the firm to use it. A very recent decision in Germany reaffirms that the manufacturer is indeed within the law.

Tesla Model 3 in Autopilot Navigation // Source: Bob Jouy for Frandroid

In the course of 2020 in Munich, justice had ruled against Tesla by rendering a more or less expected verdict: the use of the terms ” Autopilot ” and ” Fully autonomous driving capability was misleading. Elon Musk’s firm had appealed, and the verdict of the appeal is different, as confirmed by Teslamag.de, which was able to obtain documents from the Munich Higher Regional Court.

A use of the term Autopilot that is not illegal

The lawsuit was filed against Tesla in 2019 by the Center for Combating Unfair Competition, based on what was stated on the automaker’s website. Indeed, at the time, the center for the fight against unfair competition had indicated that the formulations present were misleading, and therefore had no legitimacy to be used.

Following the verdict rendered by the Munich court in 2020, Tesla had chosen not to modify its website, continuing to use the terms ” Autopilot ” and ” Fully autonomous driving capability“. Instead, the American manufacturer’s legal teams preferred to appeal the decision, confident that it could be reversed.

And that seems to have borne fruit, since the next instance of justice did indeed render the 2020 verdict obsolete. Autopilot ” and ” Fully autonomous driving capability » have the right to remain on the Tesla website, in particular on the online vehicle configurator.

Autopilot Autonomous Driving
Tesla’s autonomous driving features // Source: Tesla

If the center for the fight against unfair competition wanted to ban the term Autopilot, arguing that visitors could be tricked into believing that the vehicles were self-driving, the Munich Higher Regional Court thinks quite differently. According to him, people likely to buy a Tesla are well informed about the limitations of the systemand the fact that you always have to be aware of the road and ready to regain control.

However, it’s not a complete victory for Tesla, which should be forced to change some language. For instance, the court requires Tesla to no longer state that certain features will be “available by the end of the year” without being sure of the timing. The American manufacturer now writes “coming soon” without further details, to avoid frustration and the spread of false information.

This German decision echoes an ongoing procedure in the USA, where the Department of Motor Vehicles in California is suing Tesla for the same reasons.

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