In what is raising questions about the due process of trademark claims in Nordics, the Finnish oil company, Neste Oil, has shut down a parody website, “Neste Spoil,” which was set up by Greenpeace. The environmental group claims they did not receive a notice of copyright infringement, and their hosting company, the Swedish ISP Loopia.se, acted too quickly on the takedown. Neste oil filed their claims through the World Intellectual Property Organization, but WIPO reportedly has not yet dealt with the claims.
Greenpeace’s issue with Neste Oil is Neste’s focus on palm oil in their renewable diesel fuel. While one may think that renewable diesel fuel is right up Greenpeace’s cup of tea, Greenpeace claims that palm oil is not a sustainable raw material for biodiesel on the scale that Neste requires. As a side effect of the company’s increased demand, the group claims that is causing rainforest and peatland destruction.
This seems to be Neste Oil’s official response to the takedown, which addresses the similar domain name the group used:
@FinlandInc. However, there is no need to use a domain name confusingly similar to our trademark to exercise a right of free speech.
— Neste Oil (@nesteoilgroup) May 22, 2012
On his blog, Mikko Jarvenpaa (who tipped us off on this news), puts this in the context of the ACTA and PIPA legislations that would allow corporations free reign to pull offending content down all over the web, with very little due process features.
ACTA says that Civil and Criminal enforcement should be available to “permit effective action against an act of infringement of intellectual property rights which takes place in the digital environment.” The act also states that this “should be enforced in a manner, which “preserves fundamental principles such as freedom of expression, fair process, and privacy.” Critics have pointed out that the trade agreement only vaguely points to some “judicial process” while also shifting much of the enforcement to corporations.
Regardless if you believe nestespoil.com is too close to nesteoil.com, I imagine you’re not in favor of the shoot first, ask questions later approach that we’ve seen with this case.
And as a side note, you would think these large companies would have learned some nuance in damage control by now. I probably never would have found out about the Neste Spoil website (or even this issue) before, but now the Helsingin Sanomat and I am writing about it.