• Burr Smith on Fighting T-Rex

    Yesterday digital out of home marketing platform provider Broadsign announced that T-Rex Property AB released Broadsign and Broadsign’s clients, from the T-Rex industry-wide patent infringement campaign. In response, Broadsign has agreed to dismiss its counter lawsuit against T-Rex.  Insider talked with Broadsign CEO Burr Smith

    Burr, congrats on the settlement.

    It’s not a settlement, they released Broadsign and our clients from all past and future claims. We didn’t go to trial. As a result, we dismissed our case against T-Rex. 

    What was your response when T-Rex started suing your clients?

    Broadsign has been around for a long time — we’ve been around as long as their patents. When T-Rex first emerged with this patent campaign, we flew up to Sweden.  I told them, “This is my core business.  I’ll spend as much money as I need to defend it but I’ll never pay you money unless I lose in court.” It went according to plan. If we were not infringing we were not going to settle. We knew what we were going to do, it just took a little longer than we thought it would.

    How much did it cost to defend Broadsign?

    It was mid six figures.  I don’t practice law any more but I was a lawyer at one time.  We tried to defend in the most efficient way.  At the end of the day the core issue with a patent troll is that they rely on the fact that everyone will settle.  If the industry had gotten together, with strong leadership, they could have been stopped for a lot less.

    Who represented Broadsign?

    Sandra Beauchesne from IP Delta along with Al Fabricant of Brown Rudnick.

    What else is new at Broadsign?

    We’ve grown a lot. We’ve transformed from a single product company to a platform.  We’re now building multiple products and seeing good success there.  We’ve got some work to do in the programmatic space, but I think everybody in the industry has work to do –it’s early days.  Out of home doesn’t have the market share it ought to have.  There’s a lot of friction, a lot of manual processes still.  To grow the market, the industry needs to eliminate the inefficiencies — in particular, inefficiencies around buying and selling inventory, publishing ads, and analyzing the audiences in front of screens.  Media owners need to understand their audiences and they need to educate their sales teams on how to sell those audiences, not just their locations.  It’s going to take a while to do that, but it’s going to happen.  We believe that this evolution will take 2-3 years.

    What are some obstacles to programmatic out of home buying?

    The demand side wants to buy audiences, and that audience doesn’t have to come from one publisher. That audience is based on demographics and income characteristics. In addition to providing this type of data, we need to have a standardized methodology for defining and collecting it.  And of course there is also education and time – which we already discussed.  We have a lot to do here as an industry, but it will happen. There is so much interest from all sides – the motivation and benefits are there.

    At the end of the day, programmatic buying will make out of home more efficient for all parties.  Our goal in all of this is to deliver a solution that enables suppliers to maximize their profitability, and buyers to achieve great results.

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