Gone with the Wind
CSPG’s Poster of the Week tells the story of a lawsuit filed against and ultimately won by Greenpeace. In 2001, Greenpeace launched their “Don’t buy Esso, Don’t buy Exxon/Mobil” campaign. They developed a parody of Esso’s logo by using the double dollar sign. Esso claimed the “Stop Esso” website would confuse customers, and that the logo had an association with Nazism. In 2004, the court ruled the parody was acceptable under the protection of freedom of expression.
In 2017, Greenpeace exposed Canadian logging company Resolute Forest Products’ unsustainable foresting practices, and the company sued the non-profit for $100 million in retaliation, claiming libel. Resolute used the SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) method to try and destroy Greenpeace, going so far as to claim that Greenpeace’s activities were organized crime. SLAPPs are a legal scare tactic increasingly used by corporations to silence activists. They are lawsuits with no legal merit and are pointless except to specifically suppress public debate or dissent. According to Greenpeace, “over the past 10 years, the fossil fuel industry has used SLAPPs to target over 150 people and organizations.”
At the end of April 2023, a federal court ultimately sided with Greenpeace, dismissing this seven-year lawsuit and thereby upholding free speech. Greenpeace’s victory is significant: it shows that activists can fight back and win against corporations, and it shows corporations that the public will not accept their abuse.
Greenpeace is currently involved in a very similar lawsuit against Energy Transfer, who absurdly claim that Greenpeace orchestrated the entire Indigenous Standing Rock movement. That case will be brought to trial in 2024.
While the relentless suppression techniques by powerful corporations can feel endless, it is inspiring to know that we can stand up, fight back, and win!