AGL has failed in its legal bid to stop environmental activist group Greenpeace from using its logo in campaigns blasting the electricity generator as a major polluter.
Justice Stephen Burley on Tuesday ruled that AGL Energy’s trademark infringement claim and copyright infringement claims had failed in all uses of the logo bar three social media posts, some photographs and placards.
Also read: Greenpeace says AGL campaign was 'pure'
Justice Burley also denied AGL’s request for damages, noting that in the vast majority of instances, Greenpeace’s use of the logo was clearly satirical. As such, it wasn’t a copyright infringement.
Greenpeace campaign against AGL
In its May 2021 online campaign, Greenpeace accused AGL of being Australia’s “biggest climate polluter” and said AGL was “greenwashing” by implying it was a leader in renewable energy.
Greenpeace used the AGL logo in its campaign which said: “AGL - Australia’s Greatest Liability”.
Justice Burley said many would consider the logo and slogan together as “darkly humorous, because the combined effect is ridiculous”.
“AGL is exposed to ridicule by the use of its corporate imagery including by use of the modified AGL logo to convey a message that AGL would not wish to send,” Justice Burley found.
However, placards and social media posts that included the logo without the “Australia’s Greatest Liability” tagline, did not feature any satirical elements, Justice Burley added.
Therefore, those placards and posts were considered copyright infringements.
Greenpeace will be unable to use those materials in the future.
AGL and the environment
AGL predominantly produces coal-fired electricity, a fact Greenpeace said is a major barrier to Australia meeting its Paris Agreement Targets.
Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator has found that AGL generates 8 per cent of the country’s emissions, making it the biggest greenhouse gas polluter.
AGL has promised to go carbon neutral by 2050, however Greenpeace said AGL needs to shut all coal plants by 2030 to have any chance of keeping climate change to 1.5 degrees celsius.
AGL owns the Liddell, Bayswater and Loy Yang A coal plants. While the Liddell plant is due to close in 2022, Bayswater is scheduled to function until 2035 and Loy Yang A until 2048.