FranceTrademark rights v free speech: can prejudicial trademark use still be prevented?

The French Supreme Court recently decided two cases involving the use of a trademark in a way that was prejudicial to its owner (Supreme Court, Areva v Greenpeace and Esso v Greenpeace, April 8 2008). The cases have been widely reported in the French media. In each case a market leader in the energy sector sued Greenpeace for painting its trademark in a negative light: Greenpeace reproduced the AREVA trademark with the shadow of a skull and modified the ESSO mark to include dollar signs (E$$O). While such uses were initially considered unlawful, the Supreme Court ultimately found in favour of Greenpeace.

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