Renault’s ZOE, which the firm registered as a trade mark when spelled in capitals without the accent on the final “e” found in the French name, is a small zero-emissions car due to be released in 2012.
A lawyer for two Renault families, David Koubbi, argued in court that calling a car the Renault ZOE was a breach of the privacy and human dignity of people called Zoe Renault.
Judge Magali Bouvier decided however the plaintiffs had no grounds to claim the car name caused them “direct and personal harm” and ruled the firm could go ahead with the name.
Koubbi said the Renaults would appeal the decision, adding that the ruling “heralded the start of a battle”.
The company responded that it was “confident in the judicial procedures”.
“We don’t want to hear ‘It’s time for your oil change’ or ‘show us your airbags’,” Koubbi had told the court, accusing the car firm of “stealing a child’s name to compensate for an under-performing car.”
“Industrialists, in order to humanise and market products, are turning names into brands,” Koubbi said. “So, if you’re lucky, you could end up as a pretty pot of flowers. If you’re not, as a whip, a dildo or a toilet brush.”
He said one family had changed the name of their three-year-old child to Margot after Renault brought out a car bearing the same name as the little girl — Clio.