When Denmark’s state vitality firm modified its identify in 2017, virtually everybody concerned agreed it was excessive time: in any case, it was known as DONG Power. (It initially stood for Danish Oil and Pure Fuel.)
The revamp was additionally a part of a transfer to get out of the oil and fuel enterprise and give attention to offshore wind, the place the corporate has turn into a world chief. However altering its identify to the hard-to-pronounce Ørsted, after one of many nation’s finest identified scientists, turned out to not be the controversy-free selection administration had envisioned.
Different vitality firms in Europe which have modified their names have confronted fees of “greenwashing,” or scrubbing their branding of fossil fuels whereas failing to do the identical to their portfolios. Ørsted (pronounced “Ehr-still”) side-stepped such allegations, but it surely nonetheless confronted opposition: from the Ørsted household itself.
On Friday, the vitality firm received a courtroom battle to maintain the Ørsted identify introduced by seven descendants of Hans Christian Ørsted, the scientist who found electromagnetism.
The relations filed the lawsuit in January 2018, objecting to their newfound affiliation with the corporate. They argued the Ørsted identify is uncommon and important sufficient to be off-limits.
The choose didn’t agree; it needs to be famous that about 1,200 individuals in Denmark now have Ørsted as a center or final identify—together with the pop star MØ. (Curiously sufficient, the corporate bumped into the same—albeit much less litigious—drawback when deciding on its earlier identify of DONG. Along with snickers by English audio system, the Dong household of Valby, Denmark was not thrilled, although it by no means pursued authorized motion.)
Ørsted stands out for its authorized tiff, however on the earth of vitality, it’s only one extra firm altering its identify to get rid of phrases like “oil” or “fuel.” Norway’s state vitality firm, for example, modified its identify from Statoil to Equinor final yr. The corporate says the change displays the nation’s shift away from petroleum extraction to renewable vitality, but it surely’s been accused of utilizing a rebranding effort to make itself seem extra “inexperienced” than it truly is.
And there are others: Finland’s Neste lower the “oil” from “Neste Oil” in 2015, the identical yr France’s GDF Suez (GDF stood for “Gaz” or fuel “de France”) modified its identify to Engie.
The transitions offered new, and sometimes extra “sustainable,” photos—not unusual for vitality firms as an entire nowadays. That was Ørsted’s official cause, too: the corporate has turn into the world’s largest producer of offshore wind vitality. The Danish state has a 50.1% possession stake in Ørsted.
However embarrassment was one thing of an element too: “DONG,” whereas innocuous in Denmark, tends to have a unique which means amongst English audio system.
In the meantime, the controversy over the corporate’s new identify will not be essentially settled: Friday’s ruling in Ørsted vs. Ørsted may very well be appealed, the household’s lawyer, Jens Jakob Bugge, instructed Fortune. If that’s the case, he stated, it might find yourself earlier than the Danish Supreme Courtroom.
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