CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia’s largest energy company lost most of its lawsuit against Greenpeace on Tuesday, alleging that the environmental group had infringed on copyright and trademark protection by using its logo in a campaign that called the company “the biggest climate polluter” in the country.
Judge Stephen Burley dismissed AGL Energy’s trademark claims, as well as copyright claims in all but three reported uses on social media, as well as some images and posters.
Burley denied the company’s claims for financial compensation.
Greenpeace previously claimed that the case in federal court had major implications for activist groups and charities. He also said AGL was joining other fossil fuel-intensive companies trying to quell criticism through legal action.
In its online campaign, Greenpeace Australia Pacific accused AGL, which generates electricity mostly from coal, of trying to clean up its environmental image in an exaggerated manner by presenting itself as a prominent investor in renewable energy. The campaign used the AGL logo and the slogan “AGL – Australia’s largest cargo”.
AGL unsuccessfully applied for a court order in early May that would have forced Greenpeace to stop using the logo.
At a hearing last week, Greenpeace argued that Australian trademark law allows the logos to be used for ridicule, parody and criticism.
AGL’s lawyer told the court that the advertising campaign had a “clear intent to damage the brand”.
“AGL is not trying to stifle public debate. What it is trying to do is protect itself, and protect its intellectual property rights,” Eftes said.
Greenpeace’s attorney, Neil Murray, told the court that the campaign did not violate the law because it did not use the AGL trademark in a commercial context and had “pure” motives.
In its latest annual report, Murray said it has agreed to be Australia’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and plans to continue generating electricity by burning coal until 2048.
The campaign aims to end Australia’s reliance on coal-fired electricity by 2030, as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Australian clean energy regulator asserts that AGL is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the country, with 8% of total emissions.
Greenpeace and AGL are scheduled to return to court on Wednesday to decide how to implement the judge’s ruling.