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Royal Dutch Shell: Profits and No Principles

By John Donovan

For the record, the litigation news reports in the “Motiva Live News Feed” – eg. Nintendo Stomps Motiva’s Patent Infringement Claims relate to a small company called Motiva LLC, not Motiva Enterprises, the company owned jointly by Shell and the Saudi regime.

The apparent clash prompted memories of the time that we approached Nintendo and Shell proposing a Nintendo themed instant win promotional game for Shell forecourts. We went to the trouble of obtaining approval from Nintendo before disclosing our proposal to a Shell executive, Andrew Lazenby, on a strictly confidential basis.

While the signs were encouraging with a fax received from Mr Lazenby containing a handwritten message saying: “Thanks John. I’ll be back in touch when we’ve made any further progress. Cheers. Andrew” – Shell was secretly producing a Nintendo themed instant win game.

The first I knew about it was when I turned over a page in a Daily Mail newspaper and saw a colourful advert for a Nintendo promotion on Shell forecourts, which bore a striking similarity to the promotion that I had put forward to Andrew.

During a telephone conversation that same day Andrew professed to be ignorant of the meaning of confidentiality. He said to me: “Under terms of confidentiality? I don’t even know anything about this stuff, you’re the expert.”

To my further surprise, Andrew went on to assert that the “Make Money” game was Shell’s property. I reminded him of our joint rights agreement with Shell on the “Make Money” promotion. He replied, “I don’t care about that”. He evidently thought that because of its financial muscle, we would not dare to go up against Shell in the Courts. He was dead wrong.

I also drew his attention to a serious security flaw in the Nintendo game that potentially enabled staff at Shell stations to identify prizes that were supposed to have been concealed under a latex (scratch-off) patch. He accepted that I had identified a problem. We subsequently discovered from Shell “discovery” documents, that Shell was aware, even before the launch date, that they had a serious problem with print security. Shell still ran the scheme for its full term – so much for Shell’s “Profits & Principles” pr line – it should have been “Profits and No Principles.”

It became obvious during my discussions with Lazenby and another Shell executive, David Watson, that Shell was up to something with the “Make Money” game. This was confirmed by a high level insider source. Shell was secretly producing a “Make Money” game in direct breach of the joint rights agreement. 100 million game pieces were being printed in North Wales.

We immediately issued High Court proceedings, threatening to serve an injunction and to send legal notifications to every Shell petrol station in the UK.  Shell settled the case out of court.

We subsequently discovered and demonstrated to a team from Shell that the “Make Money” game was totally insecure, with employees being potential able to identify and pick out all winning game pieces. Shell continued with the promotion despite this knowledge.

We also issued proceedings in respect of the Nintendo themed game. Shell also settled that action along with two further High Court cases we brought against the company, all involving the same Shell executive, Andrew Lazenby. Four successive claims, plus two High Court libel actions and a County court case, all settled in our favour by Shell.

Never guessing that his hand-written diary entries would be exposed to scrutiny in the High Court, Lazenby made entries which revealed that he was a disgruntled employee and was intent to “Set up personal business while @ Shell 35 yrs = exit date.” It was his apparent objective to exploit his position to create enough personal wealth to exit Shell at the age of 35.

As far as we could tell, all confidential ideas disclosed to Lazenby from a variety of sources and subsequently adopted by Shell, were channeled to an agency called Option One, with whom Lazenby had a close private relationship. His diaries also revealed that he had an offshore bank account in the Channel Islands (Jersey).

Readers may wonder why Shell does not take action as the above statements appear to be outrageously libelous. It is because we have the evidence/proof confirming that what we say is true. Hence Shell and its army of lawyers have to put up with the dirty laundry aired here online.

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