German carmaker Audi GmbH has issued a Cease & Desist letter to GLAAD, the LGBT community’s most prolific national advocacy group, over the addition of “Q” to the “LGBT” acronym. The “Q” has gained popularity in recent years as a more inclusive addition of “queer” or “questioning” to the group’s more traditional Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender constituency.

Audi, however, claims that a suffix of “Q” can only be used to denote their all-wheel-drive cars, known in the industry as “Quattro.” Despite GLAAD’s defense that people cannot be all-wheel-drive, a judge has already issued a preliminary ruling that such a statement is discriminatory against persons in wheelchairs (Ed: most wheelchairs are actually rear-wheel-drive). GLAAD is fighting the C&D in pending litigation.

The move is especially shocking coming from Audi, which has long benefited from disproportionate popularity in the LGBT community. Audi themselves recognized that their premium positioning and focus on style would appeal more directly to urban LGBT people who often have higher disposable incomes, fewer children, and tend to replace cars more frequently than the general population.

Industry observers have already pointed out the slippery slope any ruling could create with other groups – in most cases, against carmakers and not in their favor. In the past week alone, the following complaints have been filed:

  • Acura: The Veterans of Foreign Wars claim the “RDX” name is too evocative of the deadly WWII explosive.
  • BMW: The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) states that the BMW 420 is benefiting from their community’s longstanding meme.
  • Mitsubishi: Stephen King claims the expression “Outlander” is a property of his 1977 short story “Children of the Corn.”
  • Toyota: The National Academy of the Arts, Madrid, demands over three decades of royalties for the use of the “Prado” name.
  • Mercedes: The American Dietary Supplement Association insists the “CLA” acronym has been the intellectual property of their members for over 20 years.

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Legal experts are not certain the Audi request will gain as much traction as the company hopes. However, Matthias Glockenspiel, the Volkswagen Group’s General Counsel, said in a statement that “We cannot tolerate the continued use of the letter ‘Q’ for such nefarious purposes. If many of the founders of our company knew about this, they’d be rolling in their Argentinian graves.”

Inifiniti, who recently added a “Q” to all of its vehicle names, has already quietly retained celebrity attorney Gloria Allred as a consultant in their continued use of the letter.

In related news, Audi has filed suit against Infiniti for both the use of “Q,” as well as Ms. Allred’s name and its similarity to “Allroad.”

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