01 July 1999

SUFFOLK-BASED promot- ions agency Don Marketing faced multinational giant Shell UK in the High Court to argue its case of alleged breach of contract and misuse of confidential commercial information. The dispute centres on Shell’s Smart multi-brand loyalty card, now operational in the UK and eight other countries. This, claims Don’s managing director John Donovan, is based on pro-posals he first put to Shell in 1989 - an allegation denied by Shell, which insists that Smart’s genesis was an inhouse project codenamed Onyx which began in autumn 1991. Self-cast in the role of David to Shell’s Go-liath, Donovan has successfully pursued earlier legal actions against Shell for infringement of his intellectual property; he also won an interim hearing against the oil giant for alleged libel. Donovan and his father Alfred have become Shell shareholders and formed the Shell Corporate Conscience Pressure Group, highlighting not only their own case but those of other disenchanted Shell suppliers and franchisees. He has also run ads in the marketing press warning Shell’s partners in the Smart scheme [among them Avis Rent A Car, British Gas and First Choice Holidays] that they too could face legal action.

Stop press: The case ended abruptly after both sides withdrew their respective claims. The terms of the settlement were un-stated.