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Green Light Foundation obliged to apologise to Allegro Group

The Circuit Court in Warsaw has ruled that the Green Light Foundation and J.M. infringed the image and reputation of Allegro Group by replacing elements of the auction site’s logotype with the Nazi SS bolts. The court obliged the Foundation to destroy any and all published material with the modified logotype and to publish an apology in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

In the oral summary of the ruling the Court emphasized that the modification had been an excessive form of artistic expression. Linking Allegro Group with the SS symbol may have suggested that the portal promoted and supported the fascist ideology, the Court held. Moreover, the Court ruled that the defendants (the Green Light Foundation and J.M.) did not produce sufficient evidence to show that their actions had been justified by grounds of important public interest.

The case was brought about by the social campaign using the slogan “No more Nazism on Allegro” launched by the Foundation along with the “Never Again” Association. The campaign also used a drawing with the caption: “No to Nazi gadgets. Stop Allegro”. The logotype of the portal in the drawing included the SS bolts.

As part of the campaign, the Foundation, the “Never Again” Association and the Green Party 2004 co-organised a demonstration against selling Nazi gadgets (pictures of Hitler, swastika flags and recordings of neo-Nazi bands) on allegro.pl. The event took place in central Warsaw, at Świętokrzyska underground station. During the event, postcards with the campaign’s logotype and detailed information on the campaign were disseminated.

Allegro Group sued the Green Light Foundation and J.M. for infringement of fair competition and its personal interests in the form of fame and reputation of the company.

“The campaign, launched by a group of activists, was a response to allegro.pl failing to remove Nazi gadgets from its auctions”, says Irmina Pacho, HFHR’s lawyer. “The activists modified the portal’s logotype in a satirical way in order to enhance their objection to the auction website’s conduct. Undeniably, the criticism was direct and emotional, yet within the constraints of the constitutionally protected freedom of artistic expression. This case is of large significance for setting the limits of the freedom of speech”, adds Irmina Pacho.

The Green Light Foundation is represented by Andrzej Tomaszek and Marcelina Sosnowska-Rudnik of Drzewiecki, Tomaszek & Wspólnicy, both acting pro bono. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has been observing the court proceedings in the case.

The judgment is not final. The attorneys of the defendants intend to launch an appeal.

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