Renault can name new car Zoe as girls' case rejected

Renault's zero-emissions car, Zoe, due for release in 2012 Renault has been given the green light to name its new electric car Zoe

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Renault can name a new car model Zoe, a French judge has ruled - throwing out a case brought by the parents of two girls called Zoe Renault.

The families had argued that their children - and to a lesser extent, other children who have the first name Zoe - could face a lifetime of mockery for sharing the name of a car.

But the judge found no evidence that it would cause the children "certain, direct and current harm".

The families say they plan to appeal.

"There's a line between living things and inanimate objects, and that line is defined by the first name," their lawyer David Koubbi told Associated Press.

"We're telling Renault one very simple thing: first names are for humans."

Following Wednesday's hearing, Mr Koubbi told reporters that the judge had accepted Renault's argument that Zoe "was not a first name, but just a common noun". He said that logic was perverse.

He also argued that all of France's thousands of Zoes could be affected, with playground teasing and, as they grow older, comments in bars such as "Can I see your airbags?" or "Can I shine your bumper?"

Serious business

The all-electric Renault Zoe ZE (zero emission) is set for launch in 2012. Zoe - which means "life" in Greek - was apparently chosen to underline the car's environmental credentials.

Renault has already given several models women's names - including Clio and Megane - without facing any campaign of public opposition.

An unnamed Renault official told AP that the manufacturer had no plans to change the car's name.

"We're very happy with the judge's decision," the official said.

First names are taken very seriously in France - where parents used to be forced to select from an official list of approved names.

That is no longer the case, but officials can still argue against parents' choices if they feel they will subject children to harm or ridicule.

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