Can Esso silence your voice?

Greenpeace ordered by French court to cease Esso parody

Feature story - 9 July, 2002
The right to freedom of expression on the Internet suffered as a Paris judge ordered Greenpeace to stop using a parody of the Esso logo in its StopEsso campaign in France, pending a full hearing of the case.

Greenpeace StopEsso campaign.

Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace climate campaigner said, "This court case is just another attempt by Esso to use its money as a means of continuing its dirty business unhindered."

Esso claimed that the dollar signs Greenpeace has used in place of the "SS" in the logo linked the company to the infamous Nazi "SS" and damaged Esso's reputation. Appropriately, the French judge Justice Binoche categorically rejected this claim. And although Esso was seeking 80,000 Euro per day if Greenpeace did not comply, the judge reduced this sum to 5,000 Euro per day. The judge also rightly ruled that Greenpeace can continue to use the term "StopEsso".

However, the ruling to stop using the "dollar sign" parody of the Esso logo is disappointing because it represents a blow to freedom of expression on the Internet. It also represents a blow for climate protection.

The French website at issue is, one of several StopEsso sites globally. StopEsso is a coalition of groups, including Greenpeace, campaigning around the world to stop Esso from sabotaging international action to address climate change, such as the Kyoto Protocol.

"Esso's action in taking Greenpeace to court has simply made its bad reputation even worse," said Tunmore.

Esso, which is also marketed globally as Exxon and Mobil, is the world's biggest oil corporation. Despite profits of US$15.5 billion in 2001, Esso still refuses to make investments in renewable energy. It is Esso's behaviour, rather anything Greenpeace is doing, that is damaging the corporation's reputation.

For more information:

Visit the French StopEsso site

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