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Gator and publishers settle pop-up ads lawsuit

A group of major US publishers have settled a lawsuit against software and behavioural marketing company Gator, which delivers pop-up ads on behalf of its clients at third-party web sites without permission from the operators of those sites, according to the Associated Press.10 Feb 2004

Internet users get Gator's advertising software when they install a separate Gator product for remembering passwords and filing on-line forms. The ad software can display pop-up ads to surfers when they visit a competitor's web site.

The dispute started in 2001, when 10 publishers, including the parent companies of The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, sued Gator in a Virginia federal court, alleging copyright and trade mark infringement and unfair competition.

In their lawsuit, the publishers described Gator as "essentially a parasite on the web that rides on the hard work and the investments of [the publishers] and other web site owners."

The publishers were seeking a permanent court order requiring Gator to stop delivering pop-up ads at the sites run by them, damages, and return of Gator's revenue from the ads.

In July 2002, a federal court issued a temporary injunction ordering Gator to stop placing pop-up ads on the publishers' sites. The case itself was scheduled to be heard last month, but it was postponed because the parties were in negotiations.

The settlement was agreed last Tuesday but its terms were kept confidential, the Associated Press reports.

Gator, which claims to have 30 million active users and 500 advertising clients, still faces several lawsuits over its pop-up ads, the latest of which were filed by United Parcel Service (UPS). A number of other filings over pop-up ads have been filed by companies against Gator's advertisers.