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Ad Firms Tussle Over Sneaky Television Ads

(CN) - An advertising company stole a rival's secret product-placement method that uses "comedic vignettes" in "program integrated advertisement(s)" to outsmart viewers who don't watch TV commercials, according to a complaint in Delaware state court.

Denizen LLC claims it created the concept of "program integrated advertisement," using "integrated" ads to sell both a product and a TV show.

Denizen says it suggested a partnership with defendant MindShare Entertainment, which signed a confidentiality agreement before Denizen explained how to shoot integrated ads, to gain rights to the content of TV shows, and work with TV networks and production houses.

MindShare CEO Marc Goldstein said Denizen "had a good idea," but declined Denizen's offer to partner up, according to the complaint.

But Denizen claims MindShare used its trade secrets to develop an integrated ad campaign placing Vaseline Aloe Fresh lotion in the Lifetime TV miniseries "Maneater."

MindShare designed "co-branded" commercials that extolled the virtues of both the lotion and the TV show and "original branded-content vignettes," 2- to 3-minute commercials featuring characters from "Maneater," Denizen claims.

Because of the success of the aloe campaign, Denizen says MindShare plans to use its trade secrets to attract other customers.

Denizen says it patented its advertising method, but did not sue for copyright infringement. It seeks damages for misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition and breach of contract. Denizen also wants MindShare's profits from the ad campaign. It is represented in New Castle County Court by Richard Weinblatt and Stamatios Stamoulis, of Wilmington, Del.


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