The Fearless Girl replica statue is currently on display in Federation Square without any disclaimer (and has been for some time). In the wash-up from his Honour’s earlier reasons dismissing State Street Global’s claims, Beach J has now ordered that it can continue to be displayed either without any plaque or alternatively, with a plaque which states:
This statue is a limited edition reproduction of the original “Fearless Girl” statue in New York that was sculptured by the artist Kristen Visbal. The original statue was commissioned and is owned by State Street Global Advisors Trust Company. This reproduction is owned by Maurice Blackburn who purchased it from the artist. Maurice Blackburn has no association with State Street.
In his Honour’s principal reasons, Beach J had ruled that the display of the Fearless Girl replica and the way it had been used by Maurice Blackburn did not make any of the misrepresentations of association alleged by State Street Global. His Honour did also observe that the use of disclaimers for a period including about 3 months pursuant to an interlocutory injunction ordered by his Honour would have dispelled any misrepresentation of association (if it had been made).
State Street Global argued that a disclaimer should be required because of the uncertainty about what Maurice Blackburn might do with the replica statue in the future and might even sell it. Maurice Blackburn pointed out that, as his Honour had dismissed the claims of misrepresentation, there was no basis for any disclaimer. It also argued any disclaimer should await the determination of any appeal.
At , Beach J considered “SSGA seek too much, and MBL concede too little.”
At , Beach J considered there was sufficient material to warrant the exercise of his discretion. This appears to reflect his Honour’s summary of State Street Global’s contention:
SSGA say that absent appropriate disclaimers, there is nothing to stop MBL from engaging in the conduct that led to the present proceeding. SSGA say that having regard to uncertainty around MBL’s future intentions regarding the use or display of the replica, there remains a real risk that MBL’s use of the replica could give rise to future contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law. They note that I did accept that members of the Australian public may have known about the original Fearless Girl statue and the name “Fearless Girl”, and that such members may have associated the original statue and the name “Fearless Girl” with certain gender equality issues.
Pointing out that State Street Global’s proposed disclaimer was “an incomplete statement, fashioned to facilitate commercial advantage. After all, MBL owns the replica, not SSGA. And the artist was quite entitled to sell the replica to MBL for a use not inconsistent with the master agreement”, his Honour made an order in the form indicated.
One might think it unusual that there would be an injunction against future conduct which has not been found to occur. The “no plaque” option reflects this, but also means the name “Fearless Girl” cannot be used in a way which dilutes State Street Global’s association.