INTERACTIVE ADVERTISING BUREAU (IAB) ASSERTS GATOR.COM'S BUSINESS PRACTICES VIOLATE THE CONTRACT, TRADEMARK AND COPYRIGHT INTERESTS OF WEB PUBLISHERS AND ADVERTISERS
Unfair Competition and Deceptive Practices in Violation of Federal Laws
New York, NY - August 28, 2001 - Believing that the unfair business practices of Gator.com substantially infringe on the trademark, copyright and intellectual property rights of Web publishers and advertisers, and do not adequately protect consumers from unauthorized content, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the leading voice of the interactive advertising industry, intends to immediately pursue options on behalf of its members with the appropriate federal agencies.
Gator.com is a company that offers a service that results in the deception of consumers and advertisers and interferes with the valid contractual relationships between Web publishers and their advertisers. Its service - OfferCompanion (sm), software bundled with digital wallet Gator - contains a feature, Companion Popup Banner, which obscures advertising and/or editorial content on Web sites through the use of specially designed pop-up windows and without the consent of Web sites or innocent third party advertisers.
"Consumers who choose to use the Gator.com software for various services may not be aware that in return for these services, they are allowing Gator.com to cover up advertising sold by the Web site with advertising sold by Gator.com. The consumer has not replaced the advertising by him or herself. Gator.com has done it, and is thus presenting a false and misleading business relationship between the sites and the substituted advertisers," said IAB President & CEO Robin Webster. "Additionally, they are combining sites' copyrighted content with advertising which may not meet the quality and content requirements of particular sites. We also believe that this service illegally interferes with valid contractual business relationships."
"Gator.com's practice of visually altering publishers' content and obscuring the advertisements of unsuspecting advertisers, without notice, substantially interferes with the contractual relationships between Web publishers and advertisers," Ms. Webster continued. "In effect, Gator.com is falsely implying relationships that do not exist. Publishers and advertisers who have chosen to be associated with one another are having those relationships damaged and are suffering grave financial harm by losing business opportunities. Consumers are similarly being deceived by the company and are being denied the full experience of the Web sites as intended by the publishers."
The IAB supports its members' efforts to protect their intellectual property and business relationships with their advertisers. It is currently in discussion with a number of interactive advertising industry organizations in urging appropriate governmental agencies to investigate misleading business practices. The IAB welcomes the participation of other parties in the interactive advertising industry that are interested in protecting their intellectual property rights and the advertising they have sold or purchased.
About the IAB
Founded in 1996, the IAB is the industry's leading interactive advertising association. Its activities include evaluating and recommending standards and practices, fielding research to document the effectiveness of the interactive medium and educating the advertising industry about the use of interactive advertising. Membership includes companies that are actively engaged in the sale of interactive advertising.
Marla Nitke IAB