ShellNews.net: HUGE Embarrassment for Shell on the eve of the dual AGM’s proposing a unified company worth more that $200 billion: ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC: Shell launches Litigation against Alfred Donovan in respect of the domain name royaldutchshellplc.com: ARTICLE UPDATED 4 JUNE 05
Shell has launched proceedings via the World Intellectual Property Organisation in respect of the domain name royaldutchshellplc.com owned and used by me, Alfred Donovan, the owner and operator of this website. For the record, I am a long term shareholder in Shell. Legally this makes me a member and owner of Shell Transport And Trading Co plc.
The following is a quote from the Complaint filed by Shell: -
“The Complainant and the Group it represents have been aware of the site since the beginning and whilst they would not endorse or agree with many of the comments made by the Respondent on the website, they have taken the view that the Respondent is entitled to express his opinions and to use the Internet as a medium for doing so.”
It is nice to have Shell’s acknowledgement that I am again entitled to exercise my fundamental right to freedom of expression. Shell seems to have accepted that the terms of a peace treaty between Shell and my son and I following the last bout of UK High Court litigation is as dead as the proposed EU Constitution. It has been brought about due to blatant material breaches by Shell in September 2001 and May 2005 of the treaty terms. Although Shell does not agree with many of my comments posted on this website, it is notable that it does not deny that they are true.
Apparently the freedom of expression does not extend to former Shell geologist Dr John Huong. His whistleblower comments posted on this website resulted in 8 Royal Dutch Shell companies obtaining a Malaysian High Court Injunction in respect of the relevant web pages (which as far as I am aware remains in force in relation to my website).
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC – DUBIOUS OFFSPRING OF AN OFF-THE-SHELF COMPANY
This is not a case of "cyber-squatting". On the day I legally obtained registration of the domain names RoyalDutchShellplc.com and ShellScandal.com, Royal Dutch Shell Plc was a recently converted off-the-shelf company which had never traded. Even now the whole unification plan of using the converted off-the-shelf company as the new unified corporate platform is subject to shareholder approval on 28 June 2005.
The act of registering a UK limited company name does automatically entitle the new company to the associated internet domain name. As the Wall Street Journal article points out, Shell’s main website is shell.com. For obvious reasons this will undoubtedly remain the case even if the new proposed corporate vehicle is approved by the shareholders in Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and Shell Transport and Trading Co plc. It is important to note that the whole concept of the proposed unification is subject to shareholder approval at the forthcoming dual AGMs on 28 June 05. That approval should not automatically be taken for granted. Shell has reportedly spent $115 million in the process of planning and forming the new proposed unified venture.
Surely I am not being asked to accept that Shell management was so grossly negligent that it forgot to obtain registration of the royaldutchshellplc.com domain name at the same time that it obtained the UK company name: Royal Dutch Shell plc? Bearing in mind that Shell management had knowledge of its plans a long time before the new company name was put into the public domain, it is simply incredible that they would not have synchronised the registration of any intellectual property rights to names Shell intended to use or protect. Surely even Shell management cannot be that incompetent?
A few days after I had obtained registration of the domain name royaldutchshellplc.com my son downloaded all of the information then available for what was an “off-the-shelf” company formally called FORTHDEAL LIMITED. The directors of the company under the new name - Royal Dutch Shell Plc, were ALL Dutch Nationals. The accounts were shown as being “Overdue”. In the “Last Accounts made Up To” section it stated (NONE AVAILABLE). The Annual Return and Current Appointments Report amounted to 11 pages. Under “Nature of Business it stated “Non-trading company. I am not an accountant, but to me it all seemed a bit sudden and from an image standpoint, an unedifying corporate platform for the new grandiose unified Royal Dutch Shell plc goliath. It seems more fitting to a "Trotters Independent Traders" venture. For our American visitors, this is a firm of incompetent conmen whose hilarious antics are featured in the classic BBC TV comedy, “Only Fools & Horses”. The new company is designed to shake off the stigma of the reserves scandal which destroyed the reputation of the Shell Group parent companies, Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and Shell Transport and Trading Company plc. I have recently downloaded the current information for Royal Dutch Shell Plc from Companies House. The information in the company documents has now been transformed and runs to over 40 pages.
It is unfortunate that some of the Shell senior executives implicated in the reserves scandal will still be at the helm of the proposed unified venture. Mr Jeroen van der Veer and Malcolm Brinded are named Defendants in the pending US multibillion dollar class action lawsuits. Separately, the US Justice Department is still carrying out an investigation into potential criminal activities including fraud involving current and former Shell directors.
NOT FOR PROFIT OR GAIN - I AM NOT VIOLATING TRADEMARK LAWS BECAUSE I'M NOT ENGAGED IN COMMERCE AND I'M NOT A CYBER-SQUATTER BECAUSE I'M NOT TRYING TO PROFIT FROM THE RELEVANT DOMAINS
The normal grounds for making a complaint about the use of a domain name do not apply i.e. use of a domain name for profit, gain or the attempted sale of a domain name. I have founded many Shell related websites over several years. The domain names include: shellshareholder.org; shellsucks.info; shellnews.net; shellscandal.com; royaldutchshellgroup.com; royaldutchshellplc.com; tellshell.org and shell2004.com. As Shell is aware, I have never charged anyone for visiting the sites (or to become members of the associated Shell related pressure groups my son and I have founded). No attempt has ever been made to sell the domain names to Shell or anyone else (I received an offer to purchase the royaldutchshellplc.com domain name on 3rd June 05 - which I rejected). No donations towards the websites or pressure groups have ever been sought. I have never tried to sell any kind of advertising on this or any other website. I put a lot of time and effort into this website and have never profited from it other than the satisfaction as a Shell shareholder of bringing attention to the misdeeds of Shell management. (I have supplied at the foot of this page links to other pages on this website which contain astonishing revelations about the dark side of Shell. For example the avalanche of threats made against my family emanating from the very highest levels of Shell management - listed in date order. They also reveal Shell's scandalous involvement in undercover operations directed against its perceived enemies.)
As Shell has conceded in its Complaint, this website is not dressed up as a Shell website and thus cannot be confused with any Shell website. Shell has a trademark within the European Community for the name ROYAL DUTCH SHELL. It has no such trade mark in the USA (the registered address for the royaldutchshellplc.com domain name) nor in Canada where my website is hosted. Shell has no trade mark ANYWHERE for Royal Dutch Shell plc. I have pointed out above that in any event I am not engaged in trade or commerce of any kind. A trade mark is as the name implies about the protection of a trade mark within a specified trade (class). My "trade" is in free speech and no other. I have a global reputation in the name of royaldutchshellplc.com as a free source of information about the activities of Shell. My website has been accessible via that domain name for several months and the domain name has appeared on the site throughout this period. That is a matter of fact. For legal reasons Shell has also brought proceedings in respect of the domain names royaldutchshellgroup.com and tellshell.org. It had not previously expressed any interest or made any objection to these names (which have been in operation for such a long time that they are now up for renewal).
In relation to the domain name "royaldutchshellgroup.com", the following is a quote from the recent book "SHELL SHOCK: THE SECRETS AND SPIN OF AN OIL GIANT", published in April 2005: "For the first thing that must be said about the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies ('the Group') that emerged from the great amalgamation is that it was, and has long remained in one important sense, unreal. The Group has never existed as a legal entity" - Pages 100 & 101. (This paragraph was added on 14 July 2005).
For more than a decade I have routinely searched and sometimes obtained registration of domain names which include the “Shell” brand name because my free participation websites have focused on the activities of companies and individuals within the Royal Dutch Shell Group. The domain names are sometimes of a topical nature and reflect Shell activity/reputation during a particular period e.g. shellscandal.com. I obtained registrations which Shell had not taken: e.g. shellshareholders.org; shellnews.net; shell2004.com. Other people have also obtained domain names associated with Shell e.g. www.shellpluspoints.co.uk; www.screwedbyshell.com
I have a long association with the Shell name. The name of the company my son and I founded, Don Marketing, was published alongside Shell's name on several hundred million game cards. My son and I have placed many adverts in the media both in the UK and internationally, advertising Shell related websites e.g. adverts in Time Magazine, Marketing Week, Forecourt Trader, Mail-On-Sunday, Sunday Times etc.
Shell has alleged in its Complaint that my website contains negative comments about Shell. That is true. The vast majority are not made by me but by respected journalists. The news headlines featured on the home page are self-explanatory e.g. “It looks like the Royal Dutch/Shell Group is committing suicide in slow motion…” Since Shell management has been involved in one of the biggest corporate scandals in history – the oil reserves debacle - it is unsurprising that Shell has received a deluge of negative publicity.
Undoubtedly most of my comments have been critical, but true. That surely is the important point. If Shell takes the view that ANYTHING I have stated is false than the libel courts are the proper forum. I note that Shell has not drawn attention in its Complaint to my fair and balanced comments posted on my website as per the following extract: -
“Two examples of positive initiatives by Shell immediately come to mind. Shell is at the forefront of developing and researching renewable sources of energy in an energy hungry world; a world in which finite reserves of oil and gas are being consumed at an ever increasing and reckless pace. In the United Kingdom, Shell has, to its credit, set up an organisation to promote and encourage new businesses – Shell Livewire.”
The extract is from a Paper authored by me. The entire article can be viewed on the following link: -
Paper by Alfred Donovan presented at the National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS International, USA) Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska, held on 26/27 June 2004
Related Email: Email from Mr Charles Wiwa, nephew of the late Nobel Laureate Ken Saro-Wiwa 7 July 04
DEGREE OF CONCERN AT ROYAL DUTCH SHELL ABOUT MY WEBSITE ACTIVITIES
The following is an extract from an email I sent to Shell Group Chairman Jeroen van der Veer and his senior management colleagues on 27 November 2004. The Shell internal email mentioned therein reveals Shell management concern at the very highest levels about my comments posted on this website.
Shell circulated to its shareholders earlier this year "The Shell Report 2003". A section on page 25 is devoted to Shell's reputation. Alongside the hype about survey results carried out in 2003, is an endorsement of Shell's ethical policies by "Transparency International" -which promotes business ethics and, as its name implies, "transparency". The organisation's endorsement was within the stated context of the so-called "Panels of external experts", who "gave their independent views of how well Shell has performed." All very impressive! What was not disclosed is that George Moody-Stuart, an Executive Committee member of the organisation (and its former Chairman) is the brother of Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, a current director of Shell Transport. Shell shareholders might have been less impressed by the so-called “independent” ethics endorsement if they had known about that undeclared connection: so much for transparency.
I pointed out the questionable basis of this "independent" endorsement to the Head of Corporate Governance at The Association of British Insurers (I also sent a copy of the email to Shell directors). To my surprise Shell Legal Director/General Counsel, Richard Wiseman, mistakenly sent me a copy of his subsequent related internal email to his senior colleagues, Jeroen van der Veer, Chairman of the Committee of Group Managing Directors of the Royal Dutch Shell Group (now Chief Executive of Royal Dutch/Shell) and his Vice Chairman, Group Managing Director, Malcolm Brinded. Mr Wiseman's email, dated 24 June 2004 stated: "I am getting PX to send out our usual response to the association of British Insurers. I will also let Mark Moody-Stuart know that Donovan is now accusing Mark's brother of being in on the act." Although the tone was disparaging it is revealing and flattering to know that (a) my comments reverberate and clearly generate concern right at the very top of Shell and (b) Shell management has a defence strategy in place ready to react instantly to my humble initiatives. I suspect that you will be hearing from them shortly.
The scandal was recently described in the BBC TV Money Programme as the biggest investor fraud in history.
The following words and phrases were used in relation to the Shell reserves scandal during the course of the programme: -
“deceit”; “false pretences”; “falsely exaggerating”; “misled the world”; “basically they had been told a lie”; “embellished on the numbers”; “exaggerated the numbers”; “basically we lied to you”; “cover it up”; “doctoring the books”; “inventing numbers”; “certifying the reserve which he knows doesn’t exist”; “reserves replacement and production growth were inflated”; “I am becoming sick and tired of lying about the extent of our reserves”; “cover-up”; “actually destroyed documents”; “the scandal blew up and the company’s reputation carefully nurtured over a century was destroyed”; “Shell has lied intentionally and deceived the public”; “now they know that Shell lied to them and cost them money”; “a fraud perpetrated over a long period of time”; “a fraud perpetrated by the very heads of the company”.
Please note that there was none of the usual caveats which normally precede written statements which would otherwise be labelled as libellous: e.g. “allegedly”. The above descriptions were applied without any such qualification. They were put on record as matters of FACT.
END OF EXTRACT
In comparison my own published comments about Shell are mild.
THE DARK SIDE OF SHELL
My warnings over the last decade as a Shell shareholder about the unethical conduct of Shell senior management unfortunately went unheeded. If anyone had listened the Shell reserves scandal and the consequent corporate/shareholder/stakeholder trauma leading to the proposed unification would never have happened. The following correspondence speaks for itself. Click on each link to be amazed...
Fax from Alfred Donovan to Shell directors listed below (sent on 21 April 04) Sent to Shell Transport And Trading Directors: Lord Oxburgh; Mr Malcolm Brinded CBE; Dr Eileen Buttle CBE; Mary (Nina) Henderson; Mr Luis Giusti; Sir Peter Burt FRSE; Mr Teymour Alireza; Sir Mark Moody-Stuart KCMG; Sir John Kerr GCMG. Sent to Royal Dutch Supervisory Board: Mr Aad Jacobs; Mr Maarten van den Bergh; Mr Wim Kok; Mr Jonkheer Aarnout Loudon; Professor Hubert Marki; Mr Lawrence Ricciardi; Mr Henny de Ruiter. Sent to Royal Dutch Board of Management: Mr Jeroen van der Veer; Mr Rob Routs. Sent to the General Counsel of Shell International Limited: Mr Richard Wiseman (also Legal Director of Shell U.K. Limited). Alfred Donovan letter to Queen Beatrix dated dated 1 March 1999 (as mentioned in above fax dated 21 April 04)
Related letter from Alfred Donovan to Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands (sent 21 April 04
Letter to Shell Solicitors Kendall Freeman regarding avalanche of threats by Shell (25 May 1998) END OF COMMENTARY BY ALFRED DONOVAN
RELATED WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE: http://shell2004.com/week22/shell_wages_legal_fight_over_web2june05.htm
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