Gator, IAB Reach Accord on Controversial Pop-Up Banners

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Gator.com and the Interactive Advertising Bureau have agreed to put aside their differences and work together to develop a new version of Gator.com's Companion Pop-up Banner ads.


Gator.com said it would temporarily suspend selling its pop-up banners while it discusses alternatives with the IAB.


The problem with Gator.com's pop-up technology, according to the IAB, is that while members opt in to the company's services, the way the ads are served to those users -- by way of pop-ups that appear over a site's existing ads and content -- may infringe on the trademark, copyright and intellectual property rights of Web publishers and advertisers.


Gator.com filed a federal lawsuit against the IAB in August to protect its right to use its banner ad-covering technology. "The suit was brought in response to the IAB's unfounded accusations regarding the legality of this new advertising vehicle and their threats of legal action against Gator," the company said when it filed its lawsuit.


Both parties said this week that they agreed to extend various deadlines relating to the lawsuit to facilitate ongoing discussions. Gator.com did not say whether it intends to withdraw its lawsuit against the IAB.


"Now, as a gesture of good faith in our ongoing discussions, Gator has agreed to stop selling the Companion Pop-up Banner vehicle in its current form," said Jeff McFadden, president/CEO of Gator.com. "We will put this product on hold as we talk with IAB members to co-develop a new version that is more publisher-friendly, designed to create a revenue stream for them by monetizing unused banner inventory."


He said Gator.com would honor existing contracts through the end of the year and that he expects to relaunch IAB-approved Companion Pop-up Banners early next year.


Greg Stuart, the IAB's president/CEO, said he regretted an agreement could not have been reached earlier.


"We are in the midst of an extremely crucial period in the growth of the online advertising industry and should not allow ourselves to be sidetracked by differences of opinion when we can work together for the benefit of all," he said.


The IAB plans to announce at its annual meeting Dec. 4 that it has formed a committee to study emerging interactive advertising technologies. It has invited Gator.com to participate in the committee.


Companion Pop-up Banner is included in Gator.com's OfferCompanion, software that is bundled with the company's digital wallet service. Users register with Gator.com, Redwood City, CA, and fill out questionnaires about their likes and preferences so Gator can target relevant ads to them.


Gator.com was established in June 1999. Its first product, dubbed Gator, was a virtual "smart companion" that automatically fills out order forms and speeds shoppers through online checkouts.


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