Case Study: Gator

Founded in 1998, The Gator Corporation (Redwood City, CA) is a behavioral marketing company that works with software developers to create ad-supported software. Popular programs like Yahoo! Instant Messenger and ICQ work on similar basis: users accept free software in return for receiving ads.

The company’s clients include over 400 advertisers, who use Gator to gain access to the over 22 million consumers that have registered to use Gator-supported software and receive Gator-branded advertisements. [Source: Gator Corp.]

Things to read:

Questions to consider:

  • What is “behavioral marketing” and “passive profiling” (or “contextual advertising”), and how does Gator use these techniques to sell targeted marketing services to its clients?
  • A group of 10 Web site publishers is suing Gator to stop it from placing pop-up ads over their sites without permission. Setting aside the legal question, what ethical concerns, if any, are raised by Gator’s advertising business model?
  • How does Gator’s model differ from other forms of advertising on the Web?
  • Is it an acceptable practice for a company to automatically download a software program to web users’ computers without their informed consent or knowledge?
  • Is Gator thiefware?

Intellectual Property

Selected trademarks applications and registrations:

  • Search real-time for U.S. trademarks.

Selected patents: