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Critic wins domain dispute with Royal Dutch Shell, asks for help

Critic wins domain dispute with Royal Dutch Shell, asks for help
Critic wins domain dispute with Royal Dutch Shell, asks for help

[Posted with permission. --Declan]

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 15:49:11 +0100
From: John Donovan  
To: 'Declan McCullagh'  


My father and I, Alfred and John Donovan (both British nationals) have been
involved in bouts of litigation for over a decade involving the oil giant
Royal Dutch Shell, culminating in proceedings against my father in respect
of Shell related domain names.

One of the domain names is which happens to be the
name of Shell's unified new $200 billion Company: Royal Dutch Shell Plc. The
domain names are all registered in the USA. Shell has just lost the WIPO
case by a unanimous verdict by a three person panel. The decision is posted
on the WIPO website accessible via the link below. The second link provides
information about our bouts of litigation with Shell. Lawyers provided
services on a contingency basis on the most recent UK High Court Action. 

All of the Shell related domain names are directed at a single website -, which contains over 5000 web pages of information, leaked
Shell documents, articles, revelations etc - all focused on Shell. Links to
a couple of our own recent articles about Shell are provided below.
Fortunately Google News picks up our own stories, so they are read every day
by a significant number of Shell employees, investors, stakeholders etc. A Black Eye for Royal Dutch Shell Chairman Lord Oxburgh in
relation to Shell fraud allegations: Tuesday 16 August 2005: Secret Censorship on Royal Dutch Shell "Tell Shell" Internet
Forum: Sunday 14 August 2005 

Some idea of the impact the site is having on Shell can be judged by the
fact that eight Royal Dutch Shell companies have collectively obtained a
Malaysian High Court Injunction in respect of postings on the site made by a
Shell whistleblower, Dr John Huong, a Malaysian geologist who worked for
Shell for 29 years.  A further indication is that we were sent by mistake an
internal Shell email discussing my father. The email was between a Shell
Legal Director and the two top Royal Dutch Shell executives, CEO Jeroen van
der Veer and Group Managing Director, Malcolm Brinded.

Although we have received substantial sums in settlements from Shell from
the earlier litigation, it has happened over a period of many years and the
net proceeds are long spent.

It is now likely that Shell will take action, probably in the US Courts, to
obtain the domain names. Once it has done that, Shell might ask for "without
prejudice" discussions having put themselves in a stronger position than
they are currently in.  They might hope that my partly disabled 88 year old
father (Alfred) will be unable to defend the case, knowing that he lives on
a fixed income. I am his carer and receive a small weekly sum from the UK
government for taking care of him. The legal costs to Shell would obviously
be considerable, although this probably would be of little significance to
Shell management because of the multi-billion profits being generated as a
result of record high oil prices. The downside for Shell is that if we can
mount a defence the case could presumably take a considerable time to go
through the courts, and during that period we would continue to operate a
website which would continue to be extremely damaging to Shell's reputation
because of the expertise and archive material we have acquired over a long

Shell might approach us at some point to see if we are prepared to accept
what they would consider to be a reasonable sum to purchase the domain
names. We have never approached them on the matter and will not do so in the
future. If they do make an approach, they would almost certainly insist on
the termination of our website and of our anti-Shell campaigning activities.

Another possibility is that Shell will simply ignore the fact that my father
has ownership of the domain names including the one which must be of major
concern:  However, this seems unlikely because Shell
management knows full well that we will be reminding them, the public, and
Shell shareholders/stakeholders of the oil reserves scandal on a daily basis
for years to come. Shell has already spent almost a quarter of a billion
dollars in fines and settlements arising from the reserves scandal trying
desperately to put the debacle behind them. They will not succeed while our
website remains in being. Having a low cost platform to exercise free speech
has been invaluable. Because of our financial circumstances we would not
have posed any threat/problem without it.

Many questions arise from the current situation including whether, given my
fathers age, it would be wise to become joint owners of the domain names.
However we do not want to take any action without receiving advice.

Consequently any expert advice or offers of pro-bono legal representation
would be very welcome.

Yours sincerely
John Donovan

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