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'Victory for free speech on the Net'

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Greenpeace has heralded the decision of a French court to lift an injunction against an Esso protest site as an "important victory for free speech on the Internet".

In July last year Esso France began legal action against Greenpeace in France over the StopEsso Web site. The site used a logo which parodied Esso's own brand by putting a double dollar sign ($$) in place of the "SS" in the oil giant's red and blue "ESSO" logo.

At the time a French judge upheld Esso's complaint to remove the logo. But this was overturned yesterday by a French court, which ruled that the use of the logo was allowable under the right to free speech.

In a statement Greenpeace said: "The decision by a French court today to lift an injunction against the use of a parody logo on the StopEsso Web site was an important victory for free speech on the internet, a victory for the climate, and evidence that Esso's strategy to silence critics using the courts was futile.

Said Greenpeace International campaigner Stephanie Tunmore: "Esso is sabotaging climate protection in order to continue its dirty business and has attempted to use the courts to silence its critics. Today that strategy failed."

Esso said it was "disappointed by this court's decision"

Régis Mallet, Esso's corporate affairs manager in France said that Esso does not object to Greenpeace's right to protest.

"What we object to is their blatant disregard for the facts and their antics such as the distortion of our corporate logo," he said. ®

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