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DoubleClick settles patent cases with both Sabela and L90

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The leading provider of ad delivery software DoubleClick has settled two separate court cases regarding infringement of its patents.

The first case against Sabela (now owned by 24/7 Media) concerned DoubleClick's patent on "adserving" technology. This enables a company to collect stats on the use of online ads. Sabela uses adserving technology to measure the click-through response. At the time the lawsuit was first announced, Sabela claimed there was "no basis" for it and vowed to fight it to the end.

This determination obviously put it in good stead because DoubleClick's lawsuit has been dismissed with prejudice. Both companies have "granted each other certain rights", which, of course, we're not allowed to know about. And they have also agreed not to disclose any other details of the agreement. Did money change hands? Did DoubleClick back down on the condition that Sabela didn't tell anyone about it? God only knows.

But an interesting comparison comes in the form of the second settlement with L90. Now don't forget this is a totally different case, so any comparisons would be tenuous (despite what we just said). You'll just have to make up your own minds.

L90 is a direct competitor to DoubleClick. Two months after DoubleClick was granted a patent on a "method of delivery, targeting, and measuring advertising over networks" (September 1999) - which basically means the way in which cookies are left on people's computers - it launched a patent infringement case against L90 for the way it served up banner ads. L90 responded by firing back counterclaims.

At the time, DoubleClick appeared to have a number of heavy-duty backers who spoke of the integrity and power of the US patent system and pundits used the case as a test case for the future of cyberspace issues.

However, all this time later, the two (forgive the legal jargon) "have entered into an agreement pursuant to which the parties will enter into definitive documents to settle the patent litigation". Which basically means they've kissed and made up. Again, no information, no terms of agreement, no admittance of money changing hands, no nuffing.

Very similar you'll note to the Sabela case. One of two things have happened here. Either DoubleClick has backed down but doesn't want anyone but the big boys to know so the software doesn't effectively become open source. Or Sabela and L90 have agreed to pay some sum of money or annual fee to DoubleClick for using the technology. The second is possible, but why keep it secret if this is the case?

We'll try to see if we can find out what has really gone on, but don't hold your breath. ®

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