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The plaintiff has just restructured and has a new CEO at the helm. The defendant will soon be under new ownership. And the retailer at the center of their dispute is itself about to combine with a larger partner.

So in this moment of multiple transitions, it may be a good time to clear the decks and bury the hatchet.

A two-and-a-half-year legal dispute between the coupon and promotions companies Catalina and Quotient Technology has come to an apparently amicable close. Catalina, best known as the provider of coupons that print at retail checkouts, and Quotient, best known as the former owner of Coupons.com, have informed a Florida court that they have mutually agreed to bring their dispute to an end, with each party covering its own costs and attorneys’ fees. That preempts a trial that had been set to begin in February of next year.

Details of the agreement were not disclosed, with each company responding to inquiries from Coupons in the News with brief, nearly identical statements: “The case has been settled on confidential terms,” a Quotient spokesperson said, while Catalina’s version had the case “resolved on confidential terms.”

The dispute dates back several years, when Quotient first introduced what was meant to be an in-store alternative to Catalina’s checkout coupons. Quotient’s version was printed at the bottom of a shopper’s receipt, rather than as a separate coupon. Albertsons signed on to Quotient’s offering, dropping Catalina after more than 30 years of offering Catalina coupons in its stores.

Catalina sued its competitor in 2021, accusing Quotient of using unfair, deceptive methods to convince Albertsons to offer an inferior product. “Rather than competing fairly for customers based on better technology or service, Quotient has sought to win business by engaging in illegal, predatory, below-cost pricing,” Catalina alleged. It also accused Quotient of misleading brands into believing they were required to shift their coupon business from Catalina to Quotient.

Catalina argued it was standing up not only for itself, but for shoppers. “Consumers have been hurt by Quotient’s unlawful replacement of Catalina’s separately printed, color coupons with Quotient’s black-and-white coupons at the end of a purchase receipt,” a Catalina attorney said in court. “If you don’t see the coupons, you won’t redeem it.”

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Albertsons, too, was unhappy with Quotient’s in-store coupon program, dropping it two years after its introduction, suing Quotient for breach of contract, and settling the dispute a year later. Quotient subsequently dropped its in-store coupon program altogether, never expanding it beyond Albertsons.

As recently as just a few weeks ago, though, Quotient continued to defend its ill-fated program and attack Catalina’s motives for suing. “This is a case about a failing company — Catalina — mismanaging an outdated business model that relied almost entirely on printing paper coupons at stores while simultaneously crushing itself with debt in the process,” Quotient’s attorneys wrote in a recent court filing, alluding to Catalina’s two bankruptcy filings in recent years. “Catalina now points the finger for its financial failings not at itself or its own refusal to meet the contemporary needs of its customers, but instead, at a competitor,” Quotient went on. “And rather than invest its scarce time and resources into building the type of competitive digital offering that would be expected in the industry, it chose to pour its efforts into this lawsuit.”

The two companies were mired in pretrial disputes about various internal documents that each side accused the other of failing to produce, when they abruptly informed the court last week of their mutual decision to end their dispute.

The resolution comes at an inflection point for both parties, as much has changed since Catalina first filed its lawsuit in early 2021. Not only has Quotient dropped its in-store coupon program, but it has since sold off Coupons.com and will soon be taken over by SmartSource owner Neptune Retail Solutions.

As for Catalina, it emerged from its second bankruptcy this spring, restructuring about $370 million in debt. “With this solid financial foundation in place, we are well positioned to grow Catalina’s business in the years ahead,” CEO Wayne Powers said in a statement back in April. Three months later, Powers left the company. “With the company now experiencing year-over-year growth in many parts of the business,” a Catalina spokesman told Coupons in the News, “he and the board of directors felt the time was right to hand the mantle of leadership over to Kevin Hunter,” who now becomes the company’s eighth CEO in the past dozen years.

And Albertsons, which was not a party to this particular lawsuit, has long since moved on from its brief and unsuccessful experiment with Quotient’s in-store coupons, turning its attention to its proposed merger with Kroger.

Left somewhat in the lurch after all of this legal wrangling are consumers, who no longer have access to in-store coupons from either Quotient or Catalina at one of the largest grocery chains in the country. But with Quotient, Catalina and Albertsons all launching new chapters aimed at helping them to better compete for your business, all involved are looking forward to better times to come – and hopefully better deals, too.

Image source: Albertsons

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