Royal Dutch Shell took Greenpeace International to court in Amsterdam on Friday in an attempt to have it banned from holding any protest within 500 yards of any Shell property.
The suit shows Shell going on the offensive to protect its $4.5 billion (£2.8bn) investment in drilling for oil in the icy Arctic waters off the coast of Alaska.
Shell is based in The Hague, while Greenpeace is in Amsterdam.
The oil company's lawyers claimed that international laws on freedom of speech and assembly "do not grant Greenpeace unlimited powers to carry out protests that violate the rights of other parties."
Shell asked for an immediate six-month long ban.
Greenpeace spokesman Aaron Gray-Block said the case is limited in theory to the Netherlands, but Shell is also demanding that Greenpeace International be banned from actions in other countries.
Greenpeace called it a "legal sledgehammer to stifle public discourse."
It argues that drilling in the Arctic is inherently risky and Shell's safety plans are inadequate.
"Because Greenpeace International doesn't operate alone, but is the spider in the web of national and local organisations, our request includes that Greenpeace informs its satellite organisations that it no longer supports protests that are solely directed at causing Shell economic damage or that bring human lives and the environment in danger," Shell's complaint said.
Greenpeace campaigner Ben Ayliffe retorted that Shell was "in no position to accuse others of being reckless or unsafe."