Claria Corp., a Redwood City, CA-based provider of “spyware” software, has sued L.L. Bean for having filed “sham litigation”—even though Claria wasn’t named in the litigation.
On May 17, Bean sued four marketers for allegedly planting pop-up ads on its Website. According to Bean’s suit, the marketers used Claria software to plant the pop-up ads. But according to Claria (formerly known as Gator), two of the four companies sued by Bean—Nordstrom and J.C. Penney—haven’t used Claria software for at least one-and-a-half years. (Bean also named Atkins Nutritionals and Gevalia Kaffee in its suit.)
So in its suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on June 3, Claria charges that Bean’s suit is “a baseless resort to sham litigation, all part of its unsuccessful litigation strategy against Claria.” In a statement, Claria added that Bean is “one of a remaining handful of detractors still involved in an ongoing, separate multidistrict litigation suit against Claria.”
Claria CEO Jeff McFadden said in his statement, “This move by L.L. Bean reveals that they are fearful they cannot win on the legal merits of their longstanding lawsuit against Claria. Instead, [Bean] has chosen to wage a battle through PR campaigns and by attempting to intimidate its competitors through the filing of frivolous lawsuits.”
Mary Lou Kelley, Bean’s vice president of e-commerce, says she’s not surprised by the Claria counterattack. “Given the form of [its] business,” she said in a statement, “Claria is naturally a very litigious operation. L.L. Bean plans to press its trademark infringement complaints, and we will be equally as vigorous in defending against this latest maneuver by Claria. We have every right to protect the Bean trademark against those companies that use pop-up ads on our Website.”