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Shell Wages Legal Fight Over Web Domain Name royaldutchshellplc.com

Shell critic John Donovan

…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

Extracts from the ebook “John Donovan, Shell’s Nightmare” (now available on Amazon websites globally)

Extracts from pages 149 & 150

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.

Proceedings via the WIPO were brought in May 2005 by Shell International Petroleum Company Limited on behalf of the Royal Dutch Shell Group against my father as the “Respondent” (then owner) of three Shell related domain names, including www.royaldutchshellplc.com.

The proceedings attracted embarrassing publicity for Shell, with international news coverage e.g.

Shell Wages Legal Fight Over Web Domain Name: The Wall Street Journal: 2 June 2005: PDF of the newspaper article as it appeared.

(Unbeknown to us at the time, Shell had deliberately defamed us to a third party – The Wall Street Journal – by alleging we had obtained the domain name in “bad faith.” The subsequent unanimous verdict by a WIPO panel decided otherwise. The defamation would have been in direct violation of the peace treaty if it had still been in force. See related Shell internal email correspondence – 3 pages – we obtained in response to a SAR application.)

Shell Fights Over Domain Name Ahead of Parent Firm’s Merger: Wall Street Journal Europe June 3 – 5, 2005

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

On Friday 24 June 2005, a Reuters syndicated article was published by The New York Times, MSN Money, The Washington Post and several other publications under the headline: “Shell shareholders to Back Unification

Relevant extract from The Washington Post article:

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.

I have provided links to the relevant documents arising from the proceedings: SHELL INTERNATIONAL PETROLEUM COMPANY LIMITED v. ALFRED DONOVAN

Shell 44-page Complaint to World Intellectual Property Organisation: 18 May 2005

Shell 32-page Complaint Exhibit Supplied to WIPO: 18 May 2005

WIPO Deadline Notification to Alfred Donovan: 25 May 2005

Donovan 17-page response to Shell proceedings: 14 June 2005

WIPO Decision Notification: 11 August 2005

Domain name decision published on the net by The World Intellectual Property Org dated 8 August 2005 which was duly reported in The Times newspaper.

AN ATTEMPT by Royal Dutch Shell to claim the website royaldutchshellplc.com from an 88-year-old veteran who uses it to publish material that criticises the oil giant has failed: The Times, City Diary: 16 August 2005.

Shell lost the battle to seize the domain names I had registered in my fathers’ name and which I still retain, including the most important domain name, royaldutchshellplc.com.

I would like to acknowledge the invaluable advice we were freely given by Mr Paul Alan Levy, an attorney from the Public Citizen Litigation Group based in Washington DC. Without his help the outcome of the WIPO proceedings may have been different. For more information about Mr Levy, see the article “Paul Levy, the Web Bully’s Worst Enemy” published by the Washington Magazine.

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnews.net and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan

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