November 11, 2010 in Nation/World

France allows ‘Zoe’ Renault

Jenny Barchfield Associated Press

PARIS – It could be the French version of “A Boy Named Sue” – a car named Zoe.

A judge ruled Wednesday that the automaker Renault can call its new electric car Zoe, much to the chagrin of some French women and girls with that first name.

Parents of two children named Zoe Renault had argued in court that their children could end up enduring a lifetime of teasing and annoyance – just like the fictional youth named Sue in the famous Johnny Cash song.

The families, who are not related to the car company, wanted Renault to choose another name for the model.

“There’s a line between living things and inanimate objects, and that line is defined by the first name,” lawyer David Koubbi told the Associated Press in an interview. “We’re telling Renault one very simple thing: First names are for humans.”

But a judge found against Koubbi’s clients in a fast-track proceeding, ruling that the parents would only have a case it they could prove that naming the car “Zoe” would cause the children “certain, direct and current harm.”

Koubbi said he would appeal the decision.

He insisted that while it’s clear the Zoe Renaults of the world would be most affected by the release of the car – slated for 2012 – all of France’s estimated 35,000 Zoes would feel the sting.

Renault, one of France’s two main carmakers, has already given several of its cars female first names – including its compact hatchback Megane and its mini Clio. Both are popular girls’ names in France, but there was no organized opposition to either name.

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