On 8th June, 2021 Australia’s largest electricity generator lost its court case alleging that Greenpeace (Environmental Group) breached Copyright and Trademark laws by using its logo in a campaign that described the company as the nation’s “biggest climate polluter.”
Justice Stephen Burley held that AGL Energy failed to prove it allegation of copyright and trademark infringement for all the uses of the logo except for three social media posts as well as some photographs and placards.
Further Justice Burley denied AGL’s request for damages.
In the online advertising campaign, Greenpeace Australia Pacific accused AGL of greenwashing by promoting itself as a leading investor in renewable energy. However, AGL has predominantly generated coal-fired electricity.
Greenpeace’s Campaign used AGL logo and featured the slogan “AGL-Australia’s Greatest Liability.”
In May, 2021 AGL applied for an interim court seeking Greenpeace to stop the use of logo in its campaign. However, Greenpeace argued that that Australian Trademark Law allows for the logo to be used for satire, parody and criticism.
AGL Lawyer Megan Evetts told the Court that the use of the logo was a sheer way to malign its brand and it is just trying to protect itself rather than seeking to stifle with public debate.
Greenpeace’s Lawyer Neil Murray on the other hand said, “The campaign did not breach the law because it did not use the AGL trademark in a trade context and its motives were pure. AGL accepted in its latest annual report that it was Australia’s largest greenhouse gas emitter with plans to continue generating electricity by burning coal until 2048.”
Greenpeace and AGL will return to Court on June 9 to offer wordings for orders to give the Judge’s verdict effect.