Insignia Gets $125M Settlement From Marketing Firm

The settlement ends a legal battle that started in 2004 when Maple Grove-based Insignia sued News America Marketing In-Store, alleging violations of federal and state antitrust and false advertising laws.

Maple Grove-based Insignia Systems, Inc., announced Wednesday that it will receive a $125 million settlement from News America Marketing In-Store, LLC, ending a longstanding legal battle.

Insignia Systems-which markets in-store advertising products, programs, and services-sued its competitor, New York City-based News America, in 2004, alleging that the company violated federal and state antitrust and false advertising laws.

Under the settlement agreement, which was reached just two days after a trial, News America will pay $125 million to Insignia. In return, Insignia will pay $4 million for a 10-year business deal with News America under which Insignia will sell signs to retailers.

According to court documents, which were filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Insignia alleges that News America attempted to create a monopoly by entering into exclusive contracts with retailers, paying large “economically unjust” up-front fees, and guaranteed payments so that retailers would enter into contracts with them.

In addition, Insignia claimed that News America conspired with retailers-including Supervalu-owned Albertsons, Inc.-to boycott Insignia and engaged in other “anticompetitive conduct.”

Insignia also sued Albertsons in 2004, but that suit was settled in 2008.

News America is a subsidiary of Sydney-based News Corporation, Ltd., which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and has annual sales of more than $21 billion.

Insignia is among the state's 100-largest public companies based on its 2009 revenue of $28.1 million. The company has not yet reported its 2010 revenue.