China's Chery files trademark complaint against Mercedes over green car brand

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese automaker Chery Automobile Co Ltd [CHERY.UL] has filed a complaint with the country's trademark regulator over Mercedes-Benz's use of the "EQ" name for a line of green-energy vehicles, throwing up a potential road block for the Daimler AG DAIGn.DE unit in the world's largest electric car market.

A Chery spokeswoman told Reuters on Thursday that the automaker had filed a complaint with the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, which it hopes will bar Mercedes from using the name in China.

She said Chery has used the name “eQ” for its two-door battery electric car for two years.

Mercedes showed off a concept car for its forthcoming line of electric vehicles last year, saying it would build its first EQ car in a German factory by the end of the decade. The automaker said last year it could make EQ in China but did not give a launch date.

A Mercedes spokeswoman said in a written statement late on Thursday that the company had filed trademark applications regarding EQ with relevant authorities, but did not have further information.

A ruling in Chery’s favor would be a blow to Mercedes in a key market for new-energy vehicles as more electric cars are sold in China than the rest of the world combined, thanks in part to government initiatives targeting air pollution.

“If it entered the Chinese market, it would impact our trademark rights,” the Chery spokeswoman said.

“Mercedes Benz EQ and our (eQ) are extremely similar. Their product is also an electric car.”

China’s central government aggressively promotes green cars to fight intense urban smog and is urging its domestic industry to leap forward in automotive technology.

Reporting by Jake Spring and Beijing newsroom; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Joseph Radford