Petrol and diesel supplier Ampol will be able to keep using red canopies at its rebranded petrol stations but will not be able to use the “StarCard” brand in some of its advertising under a court judgement that heats up the ongoing tensions in the fuels marketing sector with energy giant Chevron.
The branding stoush between Ampol – the former Caltex Australia – and its former half owner, launched last September, threatened to derail Ampol’s rebranding in Australia, which is in the middle of being rolled out.
But Ampol said on Wednesday it will press ahead with the branding rollout, which CEO Matt Halliday said is due to complete by the end of 2022.
At the same time Chevron said the ruling does not affect its intention to start rebranding its Puma-named petrol stations to Caltex next year.
The dispute originates from Chevron’s move in December 2019 to terminate a licence agreement that let it use the Caltex name. Ampol, which changed its name from Caltex Australia last year, must cease using the Caltex name altogether by the end of 2022. Chevron will now relaunch Caltex in Australia after its surprise acquisition also in late 2019 of the Puma Australian network.
Ampol is embroiled in a separate dispute with Euro Garages, which owns the Woolworths petrol station network, over allegedly misleading or deceptive conduct in connection with the rebranding.
“The Ampol brand is one that strongly resonates with Australians and we will continue to leverage our position as the only major Australian fuel brand in order to win new customers,” Mr Halliday said after the Federal Court ruling.
A Chevron spokesman described the court ruling as “complex” and said the group will take time to review it.
“This judgment does not impact our exciting plans for 2022 when we will start rebranding our Puma-branded retail outlets to Caltex and growing the Caltex network,” he said.
From January next year, Chevron will also start selling an expanded range of high-quality Caltex lubricants to Australian customers, the spokesman added.
The court ruling dismissed Chevron’s claim to restrict Ampol’s use of the red forecourt canopy into the design of its Ampol branded sites, the Sydney-based company said.
Chevron’s claims that Ampol’s sub-licensee EG was displaying non-compliant signage was also dismissed, it said,
The claim by the US major that Ampol was engaged in misleading conduct by using the brands Ampol, Ampolcard, Caltex, and StarCard together was also dismissed, Ampol said.
However, the court found in Chevron’s favour in that Ampol will not be able to use the StarCard brand in some advertising to say the card will be accepted at its sites.
Ampol said the court will now hold another hearing, which will consider the details of the claims and determine cost orders.
It said it will adapt its communications with account holders to “educate them on the transition arrangements in a manner that is compliant with the judgment”.
Extracted from AFR