Arbitron Sues The Media Audit

NEW YORK Arbitron said today that it has filed a patent-infringement complaint against The Media Audit and its European ratings partner, Ipsos.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, alleges that Media Audit/Ipsos’ smart-cell-phone-based ratings methodology runs afoul of three patents Arbitron holds for its portable people meter technology, which uses an inaudible code to track exposure to media.

Arbitron is seeking a permanent injunction against Media Audit/Ipsos and adequate compensatory damages.

Media Audit/Ipsos is the would-be competitor to Arbitron’s portable people meter ratings service. The Houston-based firm emerged as an alternative to Arbitron’s PPM during Clear Channel’s request for proposal for an electronic ratings measurement committee. The CC committee has yet to make a final decision.

Arbitron has invested more than $80 million over the past 15 years to develop and test the PPM, which the company plans to roll out to 50 markets in the coming months.

“As a leading innovator of electronic audience measurement technology, we welcome competition as a way to foster the growth of the market. However, we must take action against companies that attempt to profit from our innovation by infringing Arbitron’s patents on the technology that we have worked so long and at such expense to develop,” said Steve Morris, president and CEO of Arbitron.

Media Audit/Ipsos has not conducted any field tests of its technology and has said that such a test would be contingent on financing from radio groups. The company had hoped to conduct its first field test this fall.

Media Audit/Ipsos had no immediate comment.