Tesla must not advertise with "Autopilot" / Wettbewerbszentrale prevails with KLAKA against misleading advertising

Tesla must not advertise in Germany with statements for vehicle assistance functions such as "Autopilot included". The advertising is misleading because it promises more than the vehicles are actually capable of or allowed to do, ruled the München I Regional Court.

Munich, 15.07.2020: The electric car manufacturer Tesla must not advertise vehicle assistance functions in Germany with statements such as "Autopilot included", "Full potential for autonomous driving" or "By the end of the year: ... automatic driving in built-up areas", as was recently the case on the company website. The advertising is misleading because it promises more than the vehicles are actually capable of or are allowed to do. This was decided by the Munich I Regional Court in a judgement published yesterday (Case No. 33 O 14041/19). The decision is not yet final.

The Zentrale zur Bekämpfung unlauteren Wettbewerbs Frankfurt am Main e. V. had filed an action against Tesla Model 3 advertising to this effect. The Regional Court now confirmed the Wettbewerbszentrale’s view that the statements create the impression that the vehicles advertised in this way can and are allowed to drive autonomously. In fact, however, these claims were not met.

The Wettbewerbszentrale’s lawyer Dr. Andreas Ottofülling sees the ruling as a first stage victory: "Since Level 5 autopiloted and autonomous driving is currently neither legally permissible nor technically possible with the vehicle in question, Tesla must also play by the rules and not make false promises in its advertising."

Currently, Germany lacks a concrete legal framework for the "autonomous" operation of motor vehicles. According to the classification for "autonomous driving", there are five levels. Level 1: assisted driving, Level 2: partially automated driving, Level 3: highly automated driving, Level 4: fully automated driving, Level 5: autonomous driving. Currently, there are vehicles on the market that fulfil Level 2 functions, but they are still a long way from autonomous driving.

"Advertising with an autopilot suggests to buyers that driving autonomously is permitted in this country. However, this is still a dream of the future, so Tesla must exercise restraint," emphasises KLAKA Rechtsanwälte partner Dr. Carola Onken, who represented the Wettbewerbszentrale in the proceedings. Dr. Onken has represented the Wettbewerbszentrale in competition law proceedings in Germany for many years.

The Wettbewerbszentrale is the largest and most influential self-regulatory institution operating nationwide and internationally to enforce the law against unfair competition. The basis of its activities is the power of associations to take legal action pursuant to Sec. 8(3) No. 2 Act against Unfair Competition and Sec. 33(2) Act against Restraints of Competition. Its mission is to contribute to the promotion of fair business practices and fair economic competition through legal research, legal advice, information and law enforcement.

Lawyers for the Zentrale zur Bekämpfung unlauteren Wettbewerbs Frankfurt am Main e. V.

KLAKA Rechtsanwälte Munich
Dr. Carola Onken, lawyer, partner

Inhouse
Cent Zentrale zur Bekämpfung unlauteren Wettbewerbs Frankfurt am Main e. V. – Munich Office
Dr. Andreas Ottofülling, lawyer

Munich I Regional Court
Presiding Judge Dr. Hannamann
LG Judge Dr. Vogel
LG Judge Dr. Berger