Donovan Data Eyeballs Starcom in Trade Secrets Lawsuit

19 February 2008

NEW YORK: Donovan Data Systems, a key supplier of technology to US media agencies, has accused former customer Starcom MediaVest Group of filching its trade secrets.

Donovan's technology enables media buyers to book ad space and time across a variety of media, check that those ads have appeared, bill clients, and pay the media running those ads.

The firm has provided this facility to Publicis Groupe-owned Starcom for the past seven years.

The dispute dates back to February 2007, when the duo  were negotiating to modify some provisions of their contract.

During those negotiations Starcom says Donovan falsely accused it of sharing confidential information about Donovan's technology with rival firm MediaBank.

At which point, according to Starcom's court filing, Donovan threatened to "immediately discontinue" servicing Starcom's contract unless it entered into a new long-term agreement.

Starcom didn't and Donovan did.

The court denied Starcom's request for an injunction to stop Donovan from terminating its service and the agency promptly moved its business to Mediabank. Along with – Donovan alleges – some of its proprietary methodology.

In its December filing with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Donovan accuses Starcom of conspiring with another company [MediaBank] to "clone and reverse-engineer" parts of its technology. 

It is uncertain whether the case will come to trial as the parties are currently hoping to resolve their differences via arbitration.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff