Introduction

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.

We agreed in an exchange of correspondence to share rights to Make Money and we launched the promotion to award-winning spectacular success in 1983. It caught the imagination of the public and the news media.

We were treated like heroes by Shell and supplied Make Money and other promotional games to Shell on an international basis.

The mutually successful relationship ended in acrimony lasting over two decades, with bouts of litigation.

The unfortunate hostilities have also involved cloak and dagger activity admitted by Shell.

There is a gallery at the end of some chapters which feature screenshots related to the content of the chapter. Some also contain news reports published about these events.

They provide an indication of the degree of media coverage of what was described in one article as a war (Times Diary), and in another as a public feud.

Most of the information herein is taken from the published eBook: John Donovan, Shell’s nightmare.

It is a true account of extraordinary events involving one of the world’s largest and most unscrupulous companies: Royal Dutch Shell.

I contend that the overused David v Goliath analogy can be fairly applied to this epic tale.

*Don Marketing was founded by Donovan family members, Alfred, Bob and John and their chartered accountant friend of long-standing, Don Redhead. Alfred and Don are both sadly deceased and much missed by all who knew them.

Some news headlines about the litigation Shell would prefer to forget

Selection of related webpage header images from our RoyalDutchShellPlc.com sister website, also operated by John Donovan

Header images on royaldutchshellgroup.com

read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 1: John Donovan, Shell’s nightmare

The name of this book is not an ego-driven title dreamt up by me, but the headline of an article by an award-winning newspaper journalist, Christoph Giesen published across the EU in ten languages. It was about my unusual relationship with Royal Dutch Shell. Over a decade of spectacular mutual success followed by two decades of hostilities, including sinister episodes of cloak and dagger activity by Shell against my father and me. The article led to a TV documentary feature aired across the EU.

A broadsheet German daily newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung published a major article about me on 20 March 2012 under the headline “Konzernfeind No. 1.”

The article by Christoph Giesen told the story of my epic feud with the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, a former client of the multinational company I co-founded, Don Marketing.

The English translation of the above newspaper headline: Shell’s enemy No.1

It was republished on 27 March 2012 by the European Journal/VOXeurope in ten languages under the headline: “John Donovan, Shell’s nightmare.

A related TV documentary feature filmed in the UK and Russia was subsequently broadcast across Europe by Deutsche Welle (DW) the leading German TV international public broadcasting channel. It included an interview with former Russian Deputy Minister of the Environment, Oleg Mitvol, named in a Guardian newspaper article as a “Kremlin attack dog.” Film footage of President Putin appears in the feature. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 3: Donovan vs Shell litigation

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. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 6: Shell Smart Trial at The Royal Courts of Justice

We suspended our website don-marketing.com before the Smart trial commenced in June 1999.

The trial actually commenced on 15th June 1999 in Court 58 on the 7th Floor of the modern air-conditioned Thomas More Building at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

At the start of the trial the Judge, Mr Justice Laddie QC commented that it was one of the most unpleasant cases that had ever come before him, with both sides making extremely serious allegations against each other.

Personal Intervention of Judy Moody-Stuart

Days before the Smart trial commenced, a magazine published an article containing a reference to an extraordinary personal intervention by Judy Moody-Stuart, the Quaker wife of the Shell Chairman, Mark Moody-Stuart. (Now Sir Mark & Lady Judy Moody-Stuart).

Extract

The latest part of the claim has seen Donovan set up a website attacking Shell, he has also picketed the Shell Centre at Waterloo and disrupted the oil giant’s 100th Anniversary AGM. The latest bizarre development in the case is an intervention in the form of a letter from the wife of Mark Moody-Stuart, the head of Shell International. In her letter to Donovan, Judy Moody-Stuart pleads with Donovan to stop attacking her husband saying ‘I’ve had enough of reading your miserable destructive comments about a great group of people, Shell people, and their organisation’. She then urges Donovan to spend his time working for the charity Centrepoint before wishing him ‘good luck in coming to terms with the world.’ read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 7: A biased High Court Judge who later resigned in controversial circumstances

It became increasingly evident to me when the SMART trial began that the much-respected Judge, the late Mr Justice Laddie (above) was not impartial. That conclusion was reinforced in the “Judges Comments.” These were ill-informed remarks the Judge insisted on making about me after being deliberately misled by Shell about the true terms of a settlement of the case negotiated by the parties involved. I later discovered to my horror that he had undisclosed connections with Shell. I had mortgaged my house to my lawyers to cover legal costs believing it would be a fair trial before an impartial judge. 

As the trial progressed it became increasingly evident to me that the Judge, Mr Justice Laddie, was not impartial. I later discovered to my consternation that he had disturbing undeclared connections with Shell, which gave rise to a concern over the possibility of unconscious bias. 

Although aware of both matters, the Judge expressed not the slightest interest in the burglaries or the uncover activity admitted by Shell. He actually quoted from a letter from me published by Marketing Week magazine on 25 February 1999, in which the undercover activity was mentioned. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 10: Domain name battle with Shell

In a spectacular blunder, Shell neglected to register the top-level domain name for the newly merged company Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Shell lawyers discovered, no doubt to their shock and horror, that their most enduring critic had beaten them to the registration of royaldutchshellplc.com. Shell issued proceedings via the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) as reported by the Wall Street Journal (above) but in a spectacular public humiliation, Shell lost the case.

In 2004, a huge scandal engulfed the Royal Dutch Shell Group after it fraudulently over-stated its claimed oil and gas reserves – the most important factor in determining the value of an oil company.

As a direct consequence, the Anglo-Dutch arms of the Royal Dutch Shell Group – Shell Transport and Trading Company Plc and Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, were forced to merge into a single new company: Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

However, in a spectacular blunder, Shell neglected to register what was the top-level domain name for the new company. Shell lawyers discovered, no doubt to their consternation and horror, that their most enduring critic had beaten them to the registration of royaldutchshellplc.com. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

CHAPTER 16: Our activities caught the attention of the news media

The Sunday Telegraph published an article by Juliette Garside under the headline “Online revolutionaries“ containing a reference to the Donovans and their website.

The long-lasting hostility between Shell and the Donovan family has not escaped the attention of the news media and other interested parties, such as The One World Trust, an independent research organisation associated with the UK Houses of Parliament and the United Nations.

Some memorable articles have been published regarding our activities and our website. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com