Don Marketing, the sales promotion agency alleging Shell breached copyright on the idea it used to create the Shell Smart card scheme, has placed an advertisement in this week’s Marketing Week warning businesses they may face legal action if they join the scheme.
Under the headline “Shell Smart Legal Notice”, the ad sets out the details of the court case and warns potential partners that participation in the scheme “may involve an infringement of rights, rendering it liable to legal action”.
Don Marketing managing director John Donovan has been forced by Shell’s legal department to revise a letter he planned to send to Shell’s 1,700 service stations (MW May 21).
The revised “letter before action” will be sent to all Gulf stations which have not been rebranded as Shell and are not yet contracted into the Smart scheme with Shell.
Donovan says: “There is a problem with interfering with existing contracts, but we are setting our approach out in the letter.”
The letter will also be sent to Shell service stations to warn managers they will be liable to legal proceedings when the Smart card scheme ends, and also to dealers to warn they will be liable if they switch to another franchise brand.
Shell UK is adamant it will win the case when it reaches the High Court. Mike Harle, retail development manager for UK and Ireland, says: “We think the case is clear that the Shell Smart card scheme out there is not John Donovan’s, but ours. We believe we can prove this in court.”
Shell UK will keep its station owners informed of the legal proceedings.