Shell Business Principles
By John Donovan
In 1979, the company I co-founded, *Don Marketing, created and supplied promotional games that were used to promote petrol sales on the forecourts of all major petrol brands in the UK, including Shell.
In 1981, we moved into a direct contractual relationship with Shell as a result of a presentation I made at Shell-Mex House in The Strand, the then London HQ of Shell UK Limited.
I put forward a proposal for Shell to launch a legal version of a promotional game called Make Money that Shell had abandoned in the 1960‘s out of concern that it was in breach of UK lottery laws.
Shell stole confidential intellectual property from us on several occasions. We sued and Shell settled. The settlements were inevitably surrounded by secrecy and deception designed to prevent embarrassing information from reaching third parties, particularly Shell shareholders.
LITIGATION BETWEEN 1994 AND 1996
Shell tried to keep the court settlements in the pre-Smart litigation secret – see pdf of magazine feature – “High Court papers unveil ‘secret’ Shell writ losses.”
The feature published in April 1998 was spread over several pages of Marketing Week magazine.
Shell settlements with me were inevitably surrounded by secrecy and deception designed to prevent embarrassing information reaching third parties, particularly Shell shareholders.
The first three High Court actions brought by Don Marketing were in respect of short-term promotions. Namely, a rerun of Shell Make Money; a Nintendo Gameboy themed instant win game, and a “Now Showing” movie-themed promotion.
In October 1996, I received an unsolicited letter of apology from Shell Chairman Dr. Chris Fay for the way we were treated by Shell. His letter arrived after Shell had already settled out of court with us for four High Court actions and one County Court case. As can be seen, the tone of the letter not meant for public consumption was totally at odds with press releases issued by Shell before and after his letter. The tone of the apology letter from Dr Fay (shown immediately below) was totally at odds with press releases and statements published or distributed to third parties by Shell before and after his letter. Examples are displayed. It is therefore difficult to avoid the conclusion that the apology letter was disingenuous.
Titled Shell directors, the late Sir Peter Holmes, and Sir William Purves were also directors, major shareholders and the spymasters of Hakluyt & Company, a UK corporate espionage firm founded by former senior MI6 officers. Shell used Hakluyt to engage in cloak and dagger operations against its perceived enemies, including Greenpeace, as exposed in a Sunday Times front page lead article “MI6 ‘firm’ spied on green groups.” It led to a follow-on inside page headlined “How agent Camus sunk Greenpeace oil protests”.
When Shell first instigated a cloak and dagger operation against us, we had no knowledge of the oil giants long-time involvement in the dark arts.
I first mentioned the subject of investigative activity in a letter dated 15 June 1998 that I sent to Dr Chris Fay, the then Chairman & Chief Executive of Shell UK Limited. It was also copied to Shell lawyers.
From paragraph 4 of page 3:
“Shell did retain an investigative specialist in connection with the previous litigation. They made investigations about me going back over a decade.”
Selection of related webpage header images from our RoyalDutchShellPlc.com sister website, also operated by John Donovan
The webpage header images below provide some further indication of Shell’s past and current activities and its long-term feud with John Donovan, the founder of this and 10 other Shell related websites.
As previously stated, Shell did take action several years ago in regard to the alleged wrongful use of trademarks and domain names (including royaldutchshellplc.com and royaldutchshellgroup.com) but lost the case.
Contact email@example.com for more information.
Some Don Marketing Games from the 1980s
COPY OF INFORMATION PUBLISHED ON Don-Marketing.com and “Images File” webpage (with more images added in 2020)
An article published by Prospect Magazine in February 2007 authored by Derek Brower, senior correspondent of Petroleum Economist, provides an overall background to the disputes between Royal Dutch Shell and Alfred Donovan and his son, John.
Picture of John Chambers and John DonovanJohn Donovan (right) and John Chambers at Don Marketing Hornchurch offices in 1984 For more photos see Don Marketing Photo File donmarketingphotofile.html
Don Marketing was founded by Alfred Donovan, Bob Donovan, John Donovan and their fondly remembered friend and business partner, chartered accountant, Don Redhead (deceased). Alfred, Bob and John are all retired from commercial activity. John Chambers was managing director during the most successful years of Don Marketing which, following a series of court actions with Shell, ceased trading some years ago.
Copy of archival information
HIGH COURT TRIAL JUNE/JULY 1999 Case No: DD04199 Court 58
John Alfred Donovan v. Shell UK Ltd
SHELL SMART MULTI-PARTNER LOYALTY CARD SCHEME
HIGH COURT TRIAL INDEX PAGE
(Modified 23 April 2018 when all references to relevant Shell executive changed to “AJL”)
Further modified 21 Oct 2020 with the green text added immediately below and further references to the same Shell executive spotted and changed to AJL)
The judge himself admitted in open court that he had lost control of the trial. The following is an extract from a transcribed comment he made to Shell’s barrister Mr Geoffrey Hoobs QC on Tuesday 29 June 1999:
MR HOBBS: Your Lordship said was there any other matter. I do not know whether your Lordship wishes to know about the open correspondence that has passed between the parties.
MR JUSTICE LADDIE: Mr Hobbs, it may come as a surprise to you but I am not running this case. That is very apparent. If you wish to make any submissions to me or bring anything to my attention that is a matter for your choice. I have decided there is no point in me making further enquiries of my own volition.