ValueClick, 24/7 Real Media Settle Patent Claims

Rival ad-serving companies ValueClick and 24/7 Real Media announced a resolution to their yearlong patent-infringement case on Thursday, with ValueClick agreeing to license 24/7 Real Media’s ad-serving technology in exchange for an undisclosed payment.

The agreement calls for terms of the deal to remain confidential.

The settlement brings to a close one of the last of the patent-infringement cases that swept through the ad-serving space in the past few years. New York-based 24/7 Real Media filed a patent-infringement complaint against ValueClick last February, alleging that its ad-delivery system, as well as that of its Mediaplex subsidiary, infringed on Patent No. 6,026,368, which was awarded to 24/7 Real Media in February 2000.

The patent wars began back in November 1999, when industry leader DoubleClick filed suit against L90 for infringing on a patent it had received a month earlier. The company then turned its legal ire on Australian ad-serving company Sabela Media. 24/7 Media soon acquired Sabela, firing back at DoubleClick with a patent-infringement of its own. Eventually, in November 2000, all the lawsuits were settled.

Investments and merger activity in the ad-serving space have complicated the many patent disputes. Until recently, DoubleClick held a sizeable stake in Westlake Village, Calif.-based ValueClick, after investing $85 million in the company in January 2000. At the time, DoubleClick saw its 30 percent stake in the company as a way to hedge its CPM-based ad-serving offerings with a competing cost-per-click network.

However, ValueClick soon went on a buying spree, snatching up ad-serving company MediaPlex and marketing technology company Be Free. The moves put the company more squarely in competition with DoubleClick and diluted its stake in the company.

Three months ago, DoubleClick sold its remaining 9 percent stake back to ValueClick in a $26.3 million deal.

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