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Greenpeace Sought To Make Australian Gas Light Company Toxic: Australian Court

Greenpeace campaign against Australian Gas Light Company owns making the firm look “temporarily toxic”, but didn’t defy copyright.

SYDNEY — A Greenpeace senior campaigner admits the not-for-profit’s attempts to highlight Australian energy giant Australian Gas Light Company’s (AGL) poor environmental record were intended to make the company’s brand “temporarily toxic”.

But the organization maintains it did not breach copyright on Australian Gas Light Company’s (AGL) logo by using it in a “cheeky” campaign designed to place pressure on the company to move away from coal and boost its use of renewables.

Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) has launched legal action against Greenpeace Australia Pacific over the use of its logo in a campaign calling Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) “Australia’s biggest climate polluter”.

In seeking to promulgate the message Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) is responsible for eight percent of all Australia’s carbon emissions, Greenpeace produced a website with an Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) logo and the phrase “Australia’s Greatest Liability” alongside it.

AGL launched legal action against Greenpeace Australia Pacific over the use of its logo in a campaign calling AGL “Australia’s biggest climate polluter”. (Kelly Barnes/AAP Image)

The environmental organization also produced a report on Australian Gas Light Company’s (AGL) activities, accusing the company of falsely presenting itself as a climate leader.

Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) says the logo’s use infringes its copyright and trademark rights and has taken Greenpeace to the Federal Court over the matter.

Australian Gas Light Company’s (AGL) lawyers said allegations of environmental wrongdoing were “unsubstantiated” and the company did not wish to suppress public debate on climate change, but simply to protect its copyright.

Greenpeace argues its use of the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) logo should fall under “fair dealing” provisions in Australian copyright law as it is clearly satire or parody.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive David Ritter repeatedly denied the campaign was created for educational purposes. (Dean Lewins/AAP Image)

Glenn Walker, a Greenpeace senior campaigner responsible for the campaign against Australian Gas Light Company (AGL), told the court on June 2 that the campaign was a typical case of “brand jamming” to capture public attention.

Walker and Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive David Ritter repeatedly denied the campaign was created for educational purposes.

Walker instead said the campaign hoped to render Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) a “temporary villain” and “toxic” for its environmental record, inducing pressure to change.

But he insisted Greenpeace would, if that occurred, then praise the company.

Greenpeace wants the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) to close all of its coal-fired power stations by 2030.

“In this case, the key thing we wanted to do was motivate people, narrow their view of the issue so they were compelled to act,” Walker said.

“We wanted to put a lot of pressure on this company to change.

“We see that as a temporary state … we’re very happy to celebrate their achievements when they change, we weren’t setting out to destroy (Australian Gas Light Company (AGL)).”

The hearing continues before Justice Stephen Burley.

Prior to proceedings in court, Greenpeace general counsel Katrina Bullock labeled Australian Gas Light Company’s (AGL) suit a “SLAPP lawsuit” – a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” which is designed to intimidate a firm’s critics.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Nikita Nikhil)