Market Research Firms in Battle

Market research company Harris Interactive Wednesday filed a lawsuit against competitor Greenfield Online charging it with unfair competition, defamation and disparagement.

The Rochester, N.Y.-based firm filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Western New York, claiming
that Greenfield Online displays “false and misleading” content on its site by claiming to have the “world’s largest Internet-based marketing research panel.”

The content misrepresents the nature, characteristics and quality of Greenfield’s services, Harris stated in the filing.

On its site, Harris also claims to be the world’s largest Internet-based market researcher. Harris hopes to resolve the question of who is the biggest fish in the pond with the lawsuit judgement.

In addition to the unfair competition claim, Harris also charges that Greenfield President Rudy Nadilo falsely and publicly accused Harris of unethical activity, namely sending spam, or unsolicited e-mails, to respondents. It is an accusation that Larry Foster, vice president of advertising and public relations, flatly denied.

“We have in excess of 4 million people who have indicated a willingness to participate in ongoing Internet research activities with us,” Foster said. “The claim that was made would’ve been focused on the fact that we, when we survey these people, are in fact spamming them — that we are doing it without their consent — is just outright incorrect.”

Nadilo said the company was surprised to learn of the lawsuit and maintained that Greenfield did nothing wrong.

“We are confident [the lawsuit] is without merit,” Nadilo said in a statement. “Our company is determined to ensure that the highest standards of integrity and professionalism are maintained when conducting research over the Web.”

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