Greenpeace Welcomes French Court Decision Against Areva
Auckland, 6 August 2002: A decision in favour of Greenpeace by the French High Court has dealt a blow to Areva's attempt to use the law to censor criticism of the company.
The French judge ruled against Areva’s claim that a logo on the Greenpeace New Zealand and France websites broke French commercial trademark law. The judge upheld Greenpeace’s right to freedom of expression.
Greenpeace New Zealand and Greenpeace France welcomes the French court's decision as a victory for the right to freely express opposition to Areva’s nuclear reprocessing and transports impact on the environment.
Areva brought proceedings against Greenpeace France, Greenpeace New Zealand and a French internet company, claiming that their trademark had been devalue by the use of a radioactive shadow and death's head behind an "A" similar to Areva's. They were claiming NZ$193,000 (approx) in fines plus legal expenses and wanted the internet company to take out an injunction against Greenpeace.
“Areva’s bid to stop Greenpeace using the logo merely showed how desperate Areva is to prevent any adverse criticism of their activities,” said Bunny McDiarmid, spokesperson for the Greenpeace nuclear campaign.
The judge has confirmed the right for public campaigning groups to use creative tools on the internet to expose the real nature of polluting companies, Greenpeace said.
Greenpeace says the use of a grey radioactive shadow and the deaths head behind the A similar to Areva was to highlight what they believe the company really stands for.
“We wanted to show that behind the nice name is a deadly industry,” McDiarmid said.
Areva is a nuclear company that develops nuclear weapons through their majority owner the French Atomic Energy Commission. Their reprocessing company, Cogema discharges millions of liters of radioactive waste into the sea off France every year.
Areva is sponsoring the French entry, Defy Areva, in the America's Cup in New Zealand starting in October. They are due to arrive in New Zealand, late August. Both Greenpeace France and Greenpeace New Zealand have used their websites to give the public access to information on the company’s activities.
“People have a right to know what Areva does. In New Zealand they are trying to present themselves as a clean benign power company and this could not be further from the truth,” McDiarmid said.