Australia’s biggest electricity generator on Tuesday largely lost its court case alleging that the environmental group Greenpeace had breached copyright and trademark laws by using its logo in a campaign that described the corporate as the nation’s “biggest climate polluter.”
Justice Stephen Burley ruled that AGL Energy had failed in its trademark infringement claim and failed in its infringement of copyright claim for all of the uses of the logo except for three social media posts and some photographs as well placards. Burley denied AGL’s request for damages.
Greenpeace had argued the Federal Court case had significant implications for charities and advocacy groups. Greenpeace also told AGL as the latest fossil fuel corporation to seek to stifle dissent through litigation.
In the online ad campaign, Greenpeace Australia Pacific accused AGL, which predominantly generates coal-fired electricity, of “greenwashing” by promoting itself as a number one investor in renewable energy. The campaign used the AGL logo and featured the slogan, “AGL – Australia’s Greatest Liability.”
Greenpeace lawyer Katrina Bullock said Tuesday’s decision was a win for freedom of expression and set an important legal precedent in copyright law.
Bullock said in a statement that “Today’s legal victory is good news for charities, advocacy organizations, satirists and anyone else who seeks to rely on the ‘fair dealing’ freedom of speech safeguard in the Copyright Act to criticize, review, satirize or parody powerful corporations.”
Greenpeace plans to continue its campaign to pressure AGL to close its three coal-burning power stations by 2030.