NetZero Sues Juno Online for Patent Infringement

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NetZero Inc., Westlake Village, CA, a provider of free Internet service, said yesterday that it is suing rival Internet service provider Juno Online Services Inc., New York, for infringement of its newly acquired patent for serving ads to its customers.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, claims that Juno's use of ad windows in its Internet service infringes NetZero's patented process for displaying ads or messages through a window that is separate from the Web browser.

NetZero said it uses this technology through its ZeroPort, which is a constant, on-screen window that serves as a navigational tool and also displays ads and customized messages while a user is online. The company said Juno's The Juno Guide is nearly identical to the ad window described in its patent.

"We believe this patent applies to the ad-delivery process used by many of our competitors for both targeted and untargeted advertisements and will provide NetZero with a significant competitive edge in this environment," Mark R. Goldstein, NetZero's chairman/CEO, said in a statement. "The future of online advertising will require a level of targeting and personalization that gives the advertiser an efficient means of reaching a mass audience."

In a statement Juno disputed NetZero's claim.

"Juno denies that it is infringing any valid claim of any NetZero patent," said Charles Ardai, Juno's president and chief executive officer. "On the contrary, we believe that NetZero has been infringing a key patent held by Juno, in connection with which Juno filed a lawsuit against NetZero in June of this year. We look forward to seeing both our suit against NetZero and this new suit brought by NetZero resolved through the appropriate legal process."

NetZero said it was granted an exclusive license to the patent for its ad-serving technology on Dec. 7.

The company did not specify what damages, if any, it was seeking.

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