Jupiter Media Metrix Settles Dispute
Jupiter said Wednesday it reached a settlement with PC Data Inc. and its PC Data Online division over use of similar technology and methods protected by a patent issued last September. Under the terms of the agreement, PC Data will withdraw from the business of tracking computer use and will transfer the rights to its technology to Jupiter.
Also Wednesday, the company sued two other rivals - NetRatings Inc. and NetValue USA Inc. NetRatings is majority-owned by Nielsen Media Research, which keeps similar tabs on the habits of television viewers.
The lawsuits stem from a method developed by Media Metrix in 1994 to measure Web site traffic. The company has installed monitoring software on the computers of about 150,000 volunteers, or "panelists," worldwide. The software collects data on Internet surfing habits, then sends the information to a central computer. From there, the information is parsed and compiled into reports, which are sold to advertisers and other companies.
Journalists often use such data when reporting how many people visit particular Web sites. The data is also used to determine advertising rates.
NetRatings, which uses a similar system to monitor the computer habits of 70,000 in the US, said it will fight the lawsuit.
"NetRatings believes the lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend itself against the assertions of infringements," spokeswoman Jennifer Fan said.
NetValue USA also said it would fight the lawsuit.
"Not only is our technology process fundamentally different than theirs, but we also doubt the validity of their patent," Jim Hatch, NetValue USA president, said.
Complicating the matter: At the same time Jupiter Media Metrix is settling its case against PC Data, the NPD group, which has the same CEO as Jupiter, is buying the part of PC Data's business that tracks the sale of computer software from retailers.
Tod Johnson, chief executive at Jupiter Media Metrix, is also chief executive and majority owner of NPD Group. Jupiter recently announced Johnson would step down from the company as soon as a new chief executive is hired.
Mary Ann Packo, group president of Jupiter Media Metrix, said the sale was unrelated to the lawsuit settlement.
"They were totally independent," she said. "It just so happened that NPD was a major competitor to PC Data in their business."
In a further complication, NetValue is buying other portions of PC Data's online business, including access to PC Data's U.S. clients, international affiliates and "the possibility of converting PC Data North American panelists to NetValue's advanced, proprietary metering and analysis technology."
Hatch, of NetValue, said the acquisition of access to PC Data's former clients and panelists is a completely unrelated issue.
PC Data did not immediately return calls seeking comment.