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Chapter in the book UNITED STATES TRADEMARK LAW about


ENTIRE CHAPTER 11 is a Royal Dutch Shell gripe site and blog operated by Alfred and John Donovan, who engaged in several marketing campaigns with Shell during the 1980s and early 1990s. The father and son duo believe Shell violated intellectual property agreements and filed several law suits against Shell prior to starting several websites critical of Shell, including The site has been oft quoted in news sources and is known for its activities as an Internet leak and forum for Shell whistleblowers.

Website background

The Donovans owned a chain of petrol stations in east London and Essex, for which they created many sales promotion campaigns under their company Don Marketing.[2] In 1981, Don Marketing devised a promotional game scheme for Royal Dutch Shell called “Make Money” .[3] Because the promotion was success­ful, Don created several other promotional campaigns for Shell,[4] which led in part to Shell being identified as “perhaps the biggest user of games” in 1986.[5]

In 1992 Shell appointed a new National Promotions manager to whom Don’s pro­motional ideas were disclosed on a confidential basis. [6] In 1994, Don Marketing issued a writ against Shell with respect to a follow-up “Make Money” promotion claiming breach of confidence and breach of contract, which ended in a $60,000 settlement.[7] A second writ was issued concerning a Nintendo promotion that ran in 1993.[8]. Shell settled both claims in October 1996.[6] A third law suit was processed in 1999; however, the claimant abandoned the claim.[9]

During the course of the litigation, the Donovans founded the “Shell Corporate Conscience Pressure Group”[ 10] and accompanying gripe site, which Shell UK Media Relations responded to internally in March 1995.[11]

After Don Marketing was dissolved, father and son Alfred and John Donovan created several websites to expose their perceived injustices while working with Shell, one of which is They also operate

While Royal Dutch Shell plc is a trademarked name of the company, the domain name was first registered by Alfred Donovan. [ 12] It avoids being an illegal cyber­ squatter as long as it is non-commercial, active, and no attempt are made to sell the domain name, as determined by WIPO proceedings[ 13] In 2005 Donovan said he would relinquish the site to Shell after it “gets rid of all the management he deems responsible for its various recent woes.”[14]

Reaction to site

Internet leak

The site has been recognized by several media outlets for its role as an Internet leak. In 2008 the Financial Times published an article based on a “letter published by,”[15] which Reuters and The Times also covered shortly thereafter.[16][17] The site has also been cited several other times by the aforementioned news sources as well as others.

On October 18, 2006, the site published an article stating that Shell had for some time been supplying information to the Russian government relating to Sakhalin Il[ 18] The Russian energy company Gazprom subsequently obtained a 50% stake in the Sakhalin-II project. [ 19]

Other instances where the site has acted as an Internet leak include a 2007 IT outsourcing plan,[20] as well as a 2008 internal memo where CEO Jeroen van der Veer expressed disappointment in the company’s share-price performance.[21]


The gripe site has been recognized as a bona fide source of information regarding Shell by several news sources. In the 2006 Fortune Global 500 rankings, in which Royal Dutch Shell placed third, was listed alongside as a source of information.[22] In 2007 the site was lauded for becoming “a hub for activists and disgruntled former employees.” [2] A 2009 article called “the world’s most effective adversarial Web site. “[23] The site has been described as “an open wound for Shell.”[18]

References (URLs online)

I. “”. Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2009-05-0 I.

2. “Online Revolutionaries”. The Sunday Telegraph. 2007-09-10. Retrieved 2009- 05-04.

3. “What About the Tiger Tails?”. Incentive Marketing and Sales Promotion Magazine per Shell news. net. 1984-03-0 1. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

4. Donovan, John. “The Shell Success Story”. Retrieved 2009-05- 02.

5. Donovan, John. “Games People Play”. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

6. 0′ Sullivan, Tom (1998-04-23). “High Court papers unveil ‘secret’ Shell writ losses”. Marketing Week per Retrieved 2009-05-14.

7. Rines, Simon (1999-06-06). “Donovan takes Smart case against Shell to court”. Sunday Business per Retrieved 2009-05-14.

8. Benady, Alex (1994-10-20). “Shell Struck by Writ”. Marketing Magazine per Retrieved 2009-05-02.

9. “Don Marketing Limited V- Shell UK Limited”. 1995-03-17. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

10. “Pressure group to target Shell”. ‘Forecourt Trader Magazine per /995-02-01. Retrieved 2009-06-23.

11. “Don Marketing Limited -v- Shell UK Limited”. Royal Dutch Shell per Shell­ 1995-03-17. Retrieved 2009-06-23.

12. Cummins, Chip (2005-06-02). “Shell Wages Legal Fight Over Web Domain Name”. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-23.

13. Gervais, Daniel J (2005-08-08). “WIPO ADMIN PANEL DECISION”. World Intellectual Property Organization. Retrieved 2009-06-23.

14. Walsh, Dominic (2005-08-16). “In a Spin on Report”. The Times. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

15. “Shell Pension Scheme Value Falls 40%”. Financial Times per 2008-12-13. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

16. “Shell’s Pension Underfunded, Contributions Rise”. Reuters per 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

17. “HSBC Hit by Fear Factor as Downturn Spreads to Asia”. Reuters per Shell­ 2008-12-13. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

18. Brower, Derek (2007-02-01). “Rise of the Gripe Site”. Prospect. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

19. Macalister, Terry (2007-04-19). “Thin Smile from Shell as it Sells Sakhalin Stake”. The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

20. Bergin, Tom (2007-12-21). “Shell to Cut Thousands of IT Jobs”. Reuters. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

21. “Shell Addresses Output Issue”. The Wall Street Journal per 1984-03-0I. Retrieved 2008-03-18.

22. “Executive Bookmark”. Fortune. 2006-07-24. Retrieved 2009-05-04.

23. Eringer, Robert (2007-09-10). “Gripe Sites are All the Rage Now”. Santa Barbara News-Press per Retrieved 2009-05-04.

Websites (URLs online)

Don Marketing

A hyperlinked version of this chapter I•S at Royaldutchshellplc%2Ecom

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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