September 28, 2004, 12:00 AM

Amazon and Microsoft file joint lawsuit against Canadian e-mailer

Amazon and Microsoft have filed a joint lawsuit charging Gold Disk Canada and three individuals with orchestrating “illegal and deceptive spamming campaigns” that misused Microsoft’s MSN Hotmail e-mail services and forged the Amazon.com brand name.

Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have filed a joint lawsuit charging Gold Disk Canada and three individuals with orchestrating “illegal and deceptive spamming campaigns” that misused Microsoft’s MSN Hotmail e-mail services and forged the Amazon.com brand name in sending millions of e-mails. Amazon and Microsoft teamed up in the action so they could seek maximum damages through two different legal avenues, combining Amazon’s complaints regarding infringement on its brand with Microsoft’s complaints about misuse of its e-mail severs, the companies say. “It made sense to bring the strongest case possible by both of us suing jointly,” David Zapolsky, vice president and associate general counsel at Amazon, tells InternetRetailer.com. “The aim was to make this as economically painful to the defendants as possible.”

In addition, Amazon and Microsoft separately filed four other lawsuits related to misuse of e-mail through spoofing and phishing practices. Spoofing sends e-mail with a forged e-mail address; phishing uses a forged e-mail address in an attempt to get consumers to link to what appears to be a legitimate web site to reveal personal information such as credit card account data and passwords. .

The suit against Gold Disk was filed under the federal Lanham Act, a trademark law, and the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Washington State Consumer Protection Act and the Washington State Commercial Electronic Mail Act. The suit charges that Gold Disk, among other things, opened thousands of MSN Hotmail accounts and sent fewer than 100 unsolicited e-mails through each account in an effort to avoid detection by Microsoft. It also charges that the e-mails advertised products and services “of questionable value” ranging from cable descramblers to debt consolidation.

Amazon separately filed three lawsuits in King County Superior Court in Seattle against three unidentified individuals allegedly involved in phishing schemes designed to defraud Amazon’s customers, Amazon says. Microsoft filed another separate lawsuit against Leonid Radvinsky and his Chicago-based ActivSoft Inc. and Cybertania Inc., along with several unidentified individuals, who are charged with sending millions of deceptive e-mail messages to MSN Hotmail customers, Microsoft says. Some of those messages were falsely labeled as coming from Amazon, and Amazon filed a similar suit last August, the company says.

"Since August 2003, Amazon.com has received tens of thousands of e-mails from customers, alerting us to potentially fraudulent e-mail activity,” Zapolsky says. "We are going to continue our efforts to protect customers from these schemes and will prosecute those responsible to the fullest extents of the law."

Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, added,"Today`s alliance should be yet another wake-up call for spammers and phishers that the industry is teaming up, pooling resources and sharing investigative information to put them out of business."

Efforts by InternetRetailer.com to reach the named defendants in these cases for comment were unsuccessful.

 

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