24/7 Real Media, Advertising.com Settle Patent Suit

Online advertising technology player Advertising.com has reached a settlement with New York-based rival 24/7 Real Media , over charges of infringement on 24/7’s ad serving and targeting patent.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approved the settlement. Terms were not disclosed, though sources close to the firms say a small sum changed hands in return for a license to 24/7’s patent, No. 6,026,368, “Method for providing content and advertising information to a targeted set of viewers.”

That patent, which 24/7 received in 2000, along with a related serving patent held by DoubleClick , has been at the heart of a number of disputes among the leading players in ad serving. In 1999, DoubleClick sued smaller rivals L90 and Sabela Media, for infringing on its own patent, No. 5,948,061, “Method for delivery, targeting and measuring advertising over networks.” In early 2000, 24/7 Media, which since acquired Sabela and received its own patent, sued DoubleClick.

All of the players reached a mutual settlement later that year, financial terms of which are confidential, though the firms granted each other certain rights with respect to the patents.

24/7 Real Media also sued ValueClick and its subsidiary, Mediaplex, earlier this year, charging infringement on the same patent. That lawsuit, which is also being tried in New York City, is ongoing.

24/7 spokespeople said the firm is in discussions with a number of other rival players in not only the online ad space, but in the interactive television sector as well. 24/7 Real Media is involved in iTV advertising projects in the U.K., where its technology powers ad serving for companies including Pace Micro Technologies and others.

Patent legal action continues in other areas of the online ad sector as well. WebSideStory earlier this week received a patent for its Web analytics ASP, which rivals offerings from firms including NetIQ .

In February, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published ExitExchange’s patent application, which seeks protection for its method of delivering “pop-under” ads. The format is sold by a number of online ad networks and sites, and the firm has said it has obtained licenses from a number of undisclosed ad sellers.

Rich media ad firm Unicast, which in December secured a patent for its Superstitial ad format, has leveraged its new legal protections to challenge several sellers of competing formats. One of those rivals has since gone out of business, while another, Enliven, was acquired by Unicast. A third, Bluestreak, agreed to support the Superstitial but continues selling its own format as well.

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