L.L. Bean seems to have won the latest battle in its war against pop-up advertising. In spite of claims by Claria that Atkins Nutritionals and Gevalia Kaffee never took out ads designed to appear on Beans site, the two companies have decided to settle out of court in the action filed by Bean. Both Gevalia and Atkins agreed to issue consent decrees that prohibits both companies from authorizing advertisements for its products on the L.L. Bean Web site. The other two defendants, Nordstrom and JC Penney, have opted to litigate the case.
“Both Atkins and Gevalia took immediate action to resolve our complaint without further litigation,” says Mary Lou Kelley, L.L. Bean's Vice President of E-Commerce. “We can't see why any reputable retailer would choose to litigate in defense of a practice that compromises consumer trust and confidence.”
Clarias software, which has been dubbed spy-ware by Bean, is loaded onto customers computers and tracks Web behavior. For example, if a customer visits several outdoor retail websites, ads and coupons for Eddie Bauer, one of Clarias advertisers and the reason Bean initiated the suit, are likely to pop-up.
It seems the advertising community was following the Gevalia case with great interest, since in all likelihood, Gevalia ads popped up in front of Beans site due to unrelated visits to other websites. If the case had made it to trial, some interesting precedents could have been set.
Bean is not alone in its fight against Claria. The outdoor retailer has been joined by several other companies, including Hertz, Six Continent Hotels, Inter-Continental Hotels, Wells Fargo & Company, WFC Holdings Corporation and Quicken Loans.
“This is a consumer trust issue, plain and simple,” said Chris McCormick, L.L. Bean's president and CEO. “L.L. Bean is not the only company with so much at stake here, and this development demonstrates that other retailers are coming to the same conclusion. Consumers who are concerned about privacy and the future of the internet as a place to safely transact with reputable retailers should be pleased to hear that Atkins and Gevalia acted so quickly.”