Ampol has been ordered back to the drawing board after a judge found issues with the use of the term StarCard when the petrol giant was taken to court as part of a messy divorce with Chevron.
But judge David O’Callaghan rejected Chevron’s other attempt to force Ampol to change canopies at its stations, which the petrol giant had contended were coloured “Caltex Red” and could misrepresent the nature of the business.
The Justice O’Callaghan found that Chevron’s proposition “could not be made” because the fuel giant “posits a most improbable consumer … who sees the colour red on the canopy, but at the same time is taken to pay no regard to Ampol’s signage, or the lack of Caltex branding”.
The fight stems from the 2019 split that saw Chevron pull Ampol’s rights to use its brand.
As part of the solution, Ampol will continue to sell Chevron-branded fuel at its service stations until July 2022.
Ampol has already rebranded 250 of its more than 1900 service stations.
But Chevron, for its part, is in the process of rebranding the 360 Puma stations it snapped up in 2019.
Chevron completed the $425m acquisition in June 2020.
As part of the rebranding move, Ampol advertised that StarCard and AmpolCard would be accepted at service stations.
he judge found Chevron’s suggestions that consumers would be confused between the two patrol retailers was unlikely.
“It seems to me equally obvious that a reasonable consumer of retail fuel products is unlikely even to wonder whether the two brands are owned by the same entity,” Justice O’Callaghan said.
But the judge found Ampol was in breach of the use of the term StarCard in an unauthorised manner.
A Chevron spokesman said the business would now review the judgment.
“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 2022, we will also start selling an expanded range of high-quality Caltex lubricants, such as Delo and Havoline, to Australian industrial, business and retail consumers.”
Ampol CEO and managing director Matt Halliday said the business was pleased with the decision by the court.
“The Ampol brand is one that strongly resonates with Australian and we will continue to leverage our position as the only major Australian fuel brand in order to win new customers,” he said.
Cardholders of the StarCard will continue to have access to Ampol’s network as the business goes about rebranding the cards.
The court will hold a hearing at a later date regarding the claims on which Chevron failed and the terms of relief that will be granted to the petrol giant.
The fight over branding comes as Ampol itself is locked in a court fight with service station operator EG, which alleges it was misled over the expiry of the use of Caltex’s branding.
EG launched legal action against Ampol last year alleging it had told the business it had a “long-term” deal to use Caltex branding, despite allegedly knowing that deal was set to expire within months.
EG had signed a deal with Ampol in April 2019 to supply Caltex-branded fuels at their stations and had sought assurances it would have access to the brand until at least July 2033.
That case is set to resurface in the courts in early July after discovery is completed.
Extracted in full from: Ampol to review StarCard advertising after Chevron court fight | The Courier Mail