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Shell’s botched attempt to seize its own Internet domain name

By John Donovan

Since we have many new American visitors, we thought some might be interested and amused by the story of how Shell management attempted in proceedings launched via The World Intellectual Property Organisation to seize three Shell related domain names including the domain name for this website – royaldutchshellplc.com.

This happens to be the precise dotcom domain name for the unified company Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

It was of course an uneven contest with Shell and its army of 650 in-house lawyers, including Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman on one side and an 88 year old 2nd World War veteran, Alfred Donovan (my father) on the other, who had no legal representation. Shell lost the action on all three domain names.

This is perhaps unsurprising in view of its litigation track record with us. We had already fought 6 High Court actions and a County Court action with Shell, which never won a single case. Wiseman led the Shell legal team; all of the actions were settled out of court by Shell. In each case, Shell caved in and put forward settlement proposals.

Wiseman, who admitted breaching professional rules and using undercover activity against us during the litigation, was subsequently elevated to the position of Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

How did we end up with the dotcom domain name for Royal Dutch Shell Plc? Ask Wiseman who has publicly boasted he was the conductor of the legal orchestra responsible for creating the unified company out of the ashes of the Shell Transport/Royal Dutch structure destroyed by the reserves fraud.

DOMAIN NAME BATTLE IN 2005

SHELL INTERNATIONAL PETROLEUM COMPANY LIMITED v. ALFRED DONOVAN

Domain name proceedings for…

www.royaldutchshellplc.com

www.royaldutchshellgroup.com

www.tellshell.org

Shell Complaint to World Intellectual Property Organisation

Shell Complaint Exhibit Supplied to WIPO

Donovan Response to proceedings

WIPO Notification

WIPO Decision Notification

Domain name decision published on the net by The World Intellectual Property Org in August 2005: http://arbiter.wipo.int/domains/decisions/html/2005/d2005-0538.html

RELATED ARTICLES

THE WALL STREET JOURNALShell Wages Legal Fight Over Web Domain Name: 2 June 2005:http://shell2004.com/week22/shell_wages_legal_fight_over_web2june05.htm

Bloomberg: Shell in Legal Battle Over Name of Web Site, Journal Reports: 2 June 2005

The Times: 21/06/2005http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8210-1662343,00.html

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Shell Shareholders to Back Unification: “Another dampener on Shell’s biggest corporate overhaul since the two holding firms tied up in 1907, is a spat over the rights to the web domain “royaldutchshellplc.com.” Disgruntled shareholder Alfred Donovan beat Shell to register the domain name. Shell has sued Donovan for the rights to the domain but while the matter plays out, Donovan uses the site to lambaste Shell management. Posted Saturday 25 June 2005http://shell2004.com/week25/newyorktimes25june2005.htm

(Variations of the New York Times/Reuters article mentioning the domain name battle were also published by The Washington Post, MSN Money, Yahoo, The Gulf Times of Qatar, The Boston Globe and money.iwon.com, all in June 2005)

The Times 16/08/2005http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8210-1736270,00.html

AN ATTEMPT by Royal Dutch Shell to claim the websiteroyaldutchshellplc.com from an 88-year-old veteran who uses it to publish material that criticises the oil giant has failed. The Geneva-based WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre has ruled in favour of Alfred Donovan, who has said that he will not relinquish the site until the company gets rid of all the management he deems responsible for its various recent woes, notably the reserves scandal.

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