The world's largest oil company is trying to silence its biggest critic by taking Greenpeace to court over the use of ExxonMobil logos in a StopEsso boycott campaign.
The Texas-based energy group has accused Greenpeace of damaging its reputation by doctoring logo letters to resemble the moniker of the Nazi secret police.
And it wants the green charity to hand over 80,000 Euros for reputational damage and a further 80,000 Euros a day should it continue to use the offending material.
Greenpeace said the move was a signal that the world's largest oil company was being hurt by the campaign launched to highlight Exxon's position on global warming.
But Exxon argued its French court action was an inevitable result of Greenpeace "misusing" the company's logo and denied being rattled.
"French law protects your trademark and logo and our employees and customers would not understand if we did not take action to prevent its misuse," said an Exxon spokeswoman in the French office.
The British arm of Exxon, which has faced more vocal action than its French sister company, declined to say whether it would take legal action.
Exxon's court documents say the company aims to prevent the publication of symbols on the StopEsso internet site. The middle two letters of Esso have been replaced by dollar signs.
"Instead of using bully-boy antics to gag free speech, we suggest Esso instead halts its campaign to subvert international action on climate change," said Stephen Tindale, Greenpeace UK director.
"We simply replaced two letters in Esso's logo with the internationally recognised symbol for the US dollar. We find it ironic that the richest corporation in the world can't recognise the dollar sign and confuses it with a Nazi symbol," he added.
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