Data Collection Firm Is Trying To Crush Rival, Antitrust Complaint Claims

     FORT WORTH (CN) – A company that sells “customer analytics” to help retailers figure out where to locate says the leading collector of consumer data, Claritas, a Nielsen subsidiary that has “raw data on every one of the over 112 million households in the United States,” is conspiring to restrain trade by driving it out of business.

     Plaintiff Buxton Co. demands treble damages from Claritas fka National Decisions, and Epsilon Data Management in this Sherman Act complaint in Tarrant County Court.
     Buxton, founded in 1994, claims that its “Community ID” and other programs are industry leaders in customer analytics, which uses “demographics, psychographics, drive-time analysis, and lifestyle characteristics to provide value-added services to any enterprise serving customers.”
     To do this, Buxton needs data, which Claritas has “grudgingly” sold it since 1994, and only after litigation, Buxton says.
     Because of the power of Claritas’ parent corporation, AC Nielsen and Nielsen Research, “Claritas is uniquely able to aggregate and provide raw data on every one of the over 112 million households in the United States around PRIZM segmentation, Work Place segmentation, population facts, business facts, consumer buying power, retail market power, traffic data, shopping center data, occupation summary data, restaurant facts and a retail tenant directory,” the complaint states.
     PRIZM is a Claritas trade name, apparently for some of its data management tools.
     Buxton claims since day one, Claritas has sold it data only “on begrudging terms.” It claims Claritas tried to rescind their original contract almost immediately in 1994, and relented only “after Buxton secured injunctive relief in federal court “.
     The price of Buxton’s annual contract with Claritas has risen from $55,000 in 1994 to more than $270,000 last year, for “the same access to raw data,” Buxton says.
     Now, Buxton says, Claritas has decided to crush it. Buxton says that since 2003, it has sold its “CommunityID” program to local governments, to help them recruit retailers.
     Six months ago, Buxton claims, Claritas launched a “new and remarkably similar” product it calls “Civic IQ.”
     Because the products compete, Claritas “seeks to eliminate Buxton as a competitor,” the complaint states. Buxton claims Claritas has told it that it will sell it the data it needs “if and only if Buxton would open its books to Claritas, giving Claritas access to Buxton’s client list, the services provided to such clients, and the revenue streams generated from each client. Understandably, Buxton, the most successful provider in the market, refused to provide this information. Buxton now faces being driven out of business by Claritas.”
     Buxton says Claritas also has demanded that its licensees around the country refuse to resell the information to Buxton, in restraint of trade. “Buxton became aware of this industry blacklist after Claritas informed it that Claritas was terminating their relationship,” Buxton says.
     Co-defendant Epsilon Data Management is one of several Claritas licensees that refused to sell Buxton the PRIZM data sets, Buxton says. It says this arrangement violates Texas antitrust law.
     Buxton is represented by Kelly Hart & Hallman.

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