30 July 2007
In May 2005, Shell issued proceedings via The World Intellectual Property Organisation against the co-owner of this website, Alfred Donovan. The purpose was to try to seize three Shell related domain names including royaldutchshellplc.com and www.royaldutchshellgroup.com
Shell gave the impression in its submission to the WIPO that it wanted to use the domain names and that Donovan was preventing Shell from being able to do so.
This extract is from pages 12 and 13 of Shell’s submission.
“As such, the Respondent, with the intent not for any particular commercial gain, but mainly to further his campaign of adverse publicity against the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies, is using the disputed names to cause embarrassment to the Group and prevent them from using the names themselves.”
We now know from a Shell internal email released to us under the Data Protection Act that Shell was being disingenuous and hypocritical. In fact, as will be seen below, Shell had no intention of using the royaldutchshellplc.com name but wanted to prevent Alfred Donovan from doing so. In other words, Shell was accusing Alfred Donovan of doing exactly what they were trying to do.
Please note that the name of the Wall Street Journal reporter who approached Shell for a comment, Mr Chip Cummins, was blacked out from the Shell email in the version supplied to us. We have reinserted his name in the appropriate places.
The content of the email dated 31 May 2005
(Unidentified section blacked out)
From: (blacked out)
Sent: 31 May 2005: 15.29
To: (blacked out)
Cc: (blacked out)
Subject: WSJ enquiry about the Donovans
You should be aware of an enquiry I received today from Chip Cummins at the WSJ concerning the registration of the website domain name www.royaldutchshellplc.com by Alfred Donovan, am old-time anti-Shell campaigner.
Chip is not particularly interested in the background to the hostilities or the claims made against Shell on the site but is interested to know why we have registered a complaint against the use of the name given that it is not our intention to replace shell.com with a url for royaldutchshellplc.com following the merger. Chip has obtained a copy of the arbitration document so has seen the argument from our side
(three and a half lines blacked out at this point)
On background and not for attribution, I explained to Chip that we have taken this action on the basis that Mr Donovan has showed “bad faith” by registering a number of domain names, similar to legitimate Shell urls with a view to blocking the rightful user from using those addresses.
Chip is not sure his story will make it past the editors but if it does we can expect it will run tomorrow. I expect he will also approach the Donovans for comment.
Attached for your information the response materials on the Donovans.
Â (blacked out)
Â (blacked out)
Shell International Limited
Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA, United Kingdom
Tel: (blacked out) Fax: (blacked out)
Email: (blacked out)
Basically Shell lawyer’s had demanded that the domain names be transferred to Shell even though Shell had no intention of using them.
The Wall Street Journal did run the story…
Shell had an army of lawyers. Alfred had no legal representation. However, an expert panel of three eminent lawyers, including a Professor of Intellectual Property Rights, gave a unanimous verdict in favour of Alfred. In short, Shell management lost the case outright and ended up with egg on their faces. Something they must be getting used to by now.