AGL Energy (ASX:AGL) loses Federal Court battle against Greenpeace

One of those times when David beats Goliath.

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Woman shouts into a megaphone amongst a group of protesters

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AGL Energy Limited (ASX: AGL) shares were in the red for most of today, rallying to finish the day higher just before the market closed. At the end of trade, the AGL share price was sitting at $9.16 – 0.11% higher than yesterday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) also had a lacklustre day, falling by 0.31%.

The struggling AGL share price came as the energy provider’s Federal Court loss against Greenpeace Australia Pacific hit headlines.

Let’s take a look at AGL’s claims against Greenpeace and the Federal Court’s ruling.

Court rules for Greenpeace

AGL took Greenpeace to court after the climate-focused charity organisation began a campaign against the energy provider. AGL claimed Greenpeace broke copyright laws by using a logo “substantially identical” to AGL’s trademarked and copyrighted logo.

AGL sought an injunction on Greenpeace’s use of its logo and damages caused by the alleged infringement.

Justice Stephen Burley ruled in Greenpeace’s favour late yesterday afternoon.

Greenpeace used a doctored version of AGL’s logo on online banners, street posters, Greenpeace’s parody website, and protest placards, in a campaign against the energy company.

Greenpeace claimed it didn’t break copyright law as it used AGL’s logo’s likeness for parody and satire – which is protected under Australian law. Greenpeace also argued it didn’t commercially benefit from its use of the similar logo.

AGL refuted this, saying Greenpeace used its logo to disseminate information and pressure the company to change its operations.

Justice Stephen Burley ruled that, except for three social media posts, Greenpeace’s use of the logo was justified. He denied AGL’s request for damages. Justice Burley’s ruling stated:

Copyright protects the owner’s interest in the artistic work, it does not provide a mechanism for protecting a copyright owner’s reputation…

Although the ultimate purpose of the Greenpeace campaign is to bring about a change in AGL’s environmental conduct, the satirical message in the impugned materials has only the effect of drawing viewers into the debate about AGL’s environmental impact…

It is not the use of AGL’s logo in the campaign that causes damage, but rather the informational message.

Greenpeace says it will continue to challenge the company to close its coal-burning power stations by 2030.

AGL share price snapshot

2021 has been a tough year for AGL shares.

Currently, the AGL share price is 23.35% lower than it was at the start of this year. It has also fallen 49.25% since this time last year.

The energy company has a market capitalisation of around $5.7 billion, with approximately 623 million shares outstanding.

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Motley Fool contributor Brooke Cooper has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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