Early Success Spurs a Competitor’s Attack
When technology veterans from AOL, Microsoft and Google helped to found clean.io Inc., they knew their innovative software to combat malicious ads was its most valuable asset. The Baltimore-based start-up company helps publishers, advertising platforms and other digital businesses prevent malvertising from disrupting customer engagement and revenue generation. Working with clean.io, publishers can still capture the fees from ad impressions while eliminating an attack completely.
Barely two years after clean.io’s launch — just as client use showed momentum — the company faced a serious threat; a competitor, Ad Lightning Inc., alleged misappropriation of its trade secrets, and sued clean.io, seeking to stop its operations and demanding financial compensation.
Reputations at Stake
In the realm of Adtech security, technical and business integrity mean everything. The lawsuit threatened to tarnish the company’s reputation with customers, prospective customers, the Adtech community and investors. It became crucial for clean.io to show that Ad Lightninging’s claims were without merit. Clean.io looked to Davis+Gilbert to use our industry and litigation experience to steer the company in a potential fight for its survival.
Integrity Drives a Fearless Strategy
Quick, decisive action to contain the damage was critical. Fully conversant in Adtech legal, Davis+Gilbert’s intellectual property litigation team collaborated with clean.io’s executives and engineers to fully document the software’s origin story and clean.io’s undeniable ownership of its novel invention.
With a bulletproof narrative in hand, we next turned to strategy. To achieve our client’s wish for a swift and favorable outcome, we decided to file a motion to dismiss Ad Lightning’s suit. To mitigate the risks of pursuing dismissal, which limited what background information could be used so early in the case, we concurrently prepared to defend against the suit if needed.
Clearing a Cloud of Doubt
Confident and committed to clearing its name, clean.io embraced our bold legal strategy. We filed a motion to dismiss, and our client got the peace of mind it neededwhen the U.S. district court granted our motion. In the decision, the court detailed Ad Lightning’s failure to plead the requirements of the Defend Trade Secrets Act. In August 2020, after an unsuccessful attempt by Ad Lightning to amend its complaint, the court dismissed the suit with prejudice, putting an end to the case.
This unequivocal vindication not only saved our client the burden of ongoing litigation — it sent a powerful and positive message to clean.io’s customers and prospective customers, investors and the Adtech industry. Now free from the cloud of Ad Lightning Inc.’s meritless claims, clean.io has gone on to significantly increase its size, introduce new products, and build upon its customer base of publishers and merchants, which now includes more than seven million websites worldwide.