U.S.-based Chevron Corp., one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies and owner of the Caltex brand, is suing Australia’s Ampol Limited (ASX:ALD), formerly Caltex Australia, in the Federal Court of Australia for allegedly breaching its trademark licence agreement (TMLA) with Chevron over the use of the Caltex trademark.
In a filing with the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) yesterday, Ampol said in a statement that “The proceedings allege that these breaches and infringements have occurred due to the use of non-compliant signage at 177 Ampol sites (of our ~800 controlled retail sites which form part of our ~2,000 branded site network) together with an unspecified number of third-party sites operating under a sub-licence from Ampol. The proceedings seek an injunction requiring the removal or rectification of the signage and damages.”
Chevron sold its 50% stake in Caltex Australia in March 2015 and terminated Caltex Australia’s right to use the Caltex brand in December 2019. Caltex Australia changed its name to Ampol Limited in December and re-introduced its old Ampol brand in May 2020.
Ampol claims that it has a “work-out period until 31 December 2022 to transition the full retail network to the company-owned ‘Ampol’ brand.”
Chevron plans to re-enter the Australian fuel retail market with the Caltex brand, after its purchase of Puma Energy (Australia) Holdings Pty Ltd. for AUD425 million (USD291 million) from Puma Energy Asia Pacific B.V. Chevron completed the acquisition of Puma Energy in July 2020.
“Ampol and Chevron have been in discussion for some time in an effort to resolve Chevron’s complaints,” Ampol said in the statement. Further, it added that the lawsuit does not affect the work-out period or Ampol’s transition to the ‘Ampol’ brand during this time frame.”
Ampol’s plan was to roll out two pilot sites in August and additional sites, primarily in Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, during the rest of 2020. Nationwide roll out is planned in 2021. The transition of its fuel retail outlets from the Caltex brand to the Ampol brand will be completed by the end of 2022.
The company said that “Ampol does not consider these matters to be a significant part of either party’s business in the context of its transition plans. Ampol is confident of its position and intends to defend the claim accordingly.”
“Ampol’s transition plans are on target,” it added.
Ampol was the first first publicly listed oil company in Australia, launching on the Australian share market in 1948 as AMP before changing its name the following year to Ampol Petroleum Ltd.
In 1965 it built the Lytton Refinery in Brisbane, giving Australia its first wholly-owned and-operated refinery, which is still a major part of the company’s operations.
In 1988 it was acquired by Pioneer International, now known as concrete company Hanson Australia. The following year Pioneer bought Solo Oil, which at the time was Australia’s largest independent distributor and retailer of petroleum products. In 1995, the company merged with Caltex, which at the time was a joint venture between two American oil giants Chevron and Texaco, to form Australian Petroleum Pty. In 1997, Australian Petroleum Pty. was renamed Caltex Australia. In March 2015, Chevron sold its 50% stake in Caltex Australia for AUD4.62 billion (USD3.16 billion).