In a major shift in strategy reflecting a more collaborative style of its new ownership and management, Innovative interfaces has withdrawn the lawsuit it filed against OCLC in July 2010. SkyRiver Technologies, the sister company and lead plaintiff of the suit, has been absorbed into Innovative Interfaces, which will integrate the SkyRiver cataloging service into its product offerings.
SkyRiver Technology Solutions was established by Jerry Kline, then owner of Innovative Interfaces, in September 2009 to provide cataloging services to compete with OCLC at lower costs. Complications arose when libraries using SkyRiver’s cataloging service, including Michigan State University, claimed that they were charged higher fees than expected when they wanted to load the SkyRiver records into the OCLC WorldCat database to support interlibrary loan. The complaint filed by SkyRiver and Innovative mentions this claim and other issues as the basis of the lawsuit.
On July 28, 2010, SkyRiver Technology Solutions and Innovative Interfaces, Inc. filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court Northern District of California against OCLC asserting that OCLC was operating as a monopoly in multiple sectors, including that of bibliographic metadata, interlibrary loan, and library automation, and was engaging in anticompetitive business practices. While the complaint mentioned OCLC’s non-profit status, this issue was not its primary focus. The case was active in the courts with many filings made through October 2010, when the case was transferred to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Another set of filings were made through April 14, 2011, when OCLC’s attorneys issued a motion to dismiss the charges. This motion has been awaiting a ruling of the court since that date.
SkyRiver had the same owner as Innovative Interfaces—Jerry Kline, and it was part of JMI Equity and Huntsman Gay’s acquisition of Innovative Interfaces. Though organizationally independent, the company operated from space leased in Innovative’s Emeryville headquarters and contracted with Innovate for technology infrastructure and other services. As a result of a recent company reorganization, SkyRiver is now folded into Innovative Interfaces and will no longer exist as a separate company. Leslie Straus, president of SkyRiver since its establishment, has left the company.
The vision of offering a competitive cataloging alternative to OCLC remains intact. SkyRiver’s cataloging services will continue as an offering of Innovative Interfaces. Tom Jacobson, Director of Resource Sharing, whose portfolio also includes INN-Reach, will oversee the SkyRiver cataloging services within Innovative.
Since the filing of the lawsuit, Innovative Interfaces has undergone change of ownership and executive management. Jerry Kline, believed to be the primary force behind the lawsuit, is no longer directly associated with Innovative or SkyRiver. The new leadership at Innovative mentions an opportunity to establish a positive relationship with OCLC as a major reason behind dropping the suit.
Within the library industry, companies can have complex relationships where they compete on some fronts and cooperate on others. The lawsuit meant a cloud of uncertainty for OCLC and a hostile business environment between it and Innovative. The withdrawal of the lawsuit opens up more of a possibility for Innovative and OCLC to find areas of collaboration, while still competing in the area of cataloging services. The statements issued by both OCLC’s Jay Jordan and Kim Massana, Innovative Interfaces CEO, reflect a more conciliatory and cooperative approach.