High Court papers have revealed that Shell has already lost three copyright battles with the promotional agency that issued a High Court writ against it two weeks ago.
The details of the out-of-court settlements have, until now, remained secret as part of the agreement reached by the two sides.
In its latest legal action, Don Marketing is suing Shell for allegedly breaching its copyright on the concept idea used to create Shell’s Smart card loyalty scheme, which is being tested in Scotland. All three previous cases hinged on the same claim of infringement.
Additional papers, lodged with the High Court writ, show that in 1996, Shell settled two cases brought by Don Marketing “on terms favourable to the plaintiff”. In both cases, one a Nintendo-themed promotion, the other a Hollywood-themed promotion, the agency claimed that Shell had used its ideas, given in confidence in 1992, without either crediting the agency or paying for such use.
In a third case, Shell paid “a substantial sum” to settle a legal action in April 1994. It resulted from the re-use of the “Make Money” promotion, which Don Marketing first ran for Shell in 1981.
Don Marketing is demanding a multimillion pound settlement in the Smart case. But Shell, which has 14 days after the writ’s issue to respond, says: “We are filing a defence and possibly a counter claim.”
News Analysis, page 21