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Jupiter settles suit, opens new one

Jupiter Media Metrix settles with PC Data over its Internet audience tracking system--and launches a new suit against NetRatings and NetValue USA.

    Research company Jupiter Media Metrix has settled one lawsuit over its patented Internet audience tracking system and launched another.

    In a settlement filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, PC Data and its PC Data Online division have agreed to withdraw from the business of tracking computer use. Jupiter Media Metrix is known for measuring Internet usage and analyzing audience behavior on the Net.

    Last September, the New York-based company filed suit against PC Data, alleging that its tracking software infringed Jupiter Media Metrix's system for measuring Internet audiences. It said the U.S. Patent and Trademark office issued the software patent Sept. 5, 2000.

    No monetary terms were disclosed in the PC Data settlement.

    Wednesday's announcement of the settlement comes a day after Jupiter Media Metrix set off another legal battle over its core tracking system. In a similar lawsuit filed Tuesday in the same U.S. District Court, Jupiter Media Metrix claims that the companies NetRatings and NetValue USA implement methods for computer-use tracking that infringe its patented technology.

    Jupiter Media Metrix said it is seeking a permanent injunction preventing NetRatings and NetValue from infringing its patent as well as monetary damages for past use of the technology.

    Jim Hatch, president of NetValue, dismissed the patent infringement claims as "completely without merit" and a "competitive maneuver that is badly conceived."

    "Not only is our technology process fundamentally different than theirs, but we also doubt the validity of their patent," Hatch said Wednesday. "Of course we will aggressively fight this. We have all the resources and a proprietary technology. We fully expect to prevail."

    Earlier this week, NetValue acquired certain assets of PC Data Online, but Hatch emphasized that the acquisition of access to PC Data's former clients and panelists is a completely unrelated issue.

    "This legal action is a testament to our impact in the Internet space in this country," Hatch said. "Our aggressive growth here plus our acquisition activities have obviously triggered a very spurious attempt to hurt us in the market. It won't."