Can a Product Name Trigger a Recall?

by | Mar 28, 2023 | Product Liability

Formerly situated in the realm of science fiction, self-driving cars will soon become part of our everyday lives. Automated vehicles and the systems they run on should theoretically make car travel safer and more efficient. But before that can happen, automakers need to perfect not just the technology but the nomenclature that describes it. One notable example involves a recall recently issued by Tesla necessitated by the company’s use of the term “Full Self Driving” to refer to a system that is only partially automated.

What’s in a Name?

Using a name that could be construed as misleading can create legal headaches for companies. One reason car makers issue recalls relates to drivers using a feature in a way that contradicts the manufacturer’s recommended use. While warning labels and user manuals help safeguard companies against misuse, there are instances where expected misuse arising from misconceptions about the name of a product or feature can expose the company to legal risk.

Marketing Messages Matter

Car companies are not only obligated to make their vehicles safe. They also have a responsibility to market their products and features in an ethical way. If a driver is harmed by misusing a feature with a name that could be easily misconstrued, the automaker could face product liability claims. For this reason, it is critical to have a skilled legal team involved in the process of reviewing marketing content in addition to user manuals and safety warnings to nip these potential problems in the bud.