French judge to decide if Esso damaged by Greenpeace

Press release - 1 July, 2002

A French judge has reserved his decision on a lawsuit brought by oil giant Esso trying to sue Greenpeace in France over the use of logos on the StopEsso website.

Judge Cinoche, in the First Chamber of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris is expected to hand down his ruling on Monday 8th July over the StopEsso website's use of a logo which Esso alleges will cause the public to think of the infamous SS. Esso is marketed as Exxon and Mobil globally.

Esso claimed that a double dollar sign of one logo associated the company with the Nazi SS. Esso had demanded the withdrawal of all the logos, a penalty of 80,000 Euro a day for reputational damage and 80,000 Euro per day per logo if Greenpeace failed to comply. It also demanded removal of all use of the term "StopEsso".

"This case is more than just about free speech on the internet, " said Greenpeace International climate campaigner, Stephanie Tunmore. "Esso's own behaviour in attempting to undermine international action on climate change is hurting its reputation.

"Esso is trying to use the court system to silence us. The company has a history of using money to get what it wants, such as buying pseudo-science and advertising campaigns that have the effect of confusing the public.

"But Esso knows it could never buy our silence. So instead, it's trying to shut us up with a protracted court case. It knows it won't win this case, but it has plenty of money to throw at lawyers over the year or more that it could take this case to be fully heard."

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

"Esso can't win a debate about climate change, and it won't discuss the content of the website. Esso's action in taking Greenpeace to court has simply worsened its already bad reputation."

Esso is the world's biggest oil corporation. In 2001 the company made profits of US$15.5 billion.

"This court case is just another attempt by Esso to use its money as a means of continuing its dirty business unhindered. But money can't buy justice and no-one, not even the richest oil corporation in the world, can buy the climate."