NEWS20 June 2011

Kantar and TRA at loggerheads over data fusion patent

Legal North America

US— WPP companies Kantar and Cavendish are to do battle in the courts with TRA, the advertising ROI research firm, over claims of patent infringement.

Kantar and Cavendish have jointly filed a complaint in a New York district court, seemingly to pre-empt the threat of legal action from TRA, whose CEO Mark Lieberman is alleged to have told Cavendish that it is prepared to sue Kantar over the alleged infringement of its patent rights.

The patent in question (number 7,729,940 ) relates to a process for “analysing return on investment of advertising campaigns by matching multiple data sources”.

According to Kantar and Cavendish, TRA claims that Kantar’s RapidView-Retail product encroaches on its patent. The product marries TV audience data and purchase behaviour data with a view to better targeting ad spend.

The case is unusual as Kantar has been a long-time investor in TRA, and Sheila Spence, a WPP and Cavendish executive, sits on the TRA board – though she is alleged to have been excluded from a recent board meeting and may also be excluded from another upcoming meeting.

Kantar and Cavendish have asked the court for a declaratory judgement that Kantar has not infringed the patent. The lawsuit also seeks damages for breach of contract over the alleged exclusion of Spence.