AOL Wins 3 Spam Suits, Files 9 More

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America Online Inc. announced last week that it had won three lawsuits against unsolicited bulk e-mailers and that it had filed nine more in its battle against spam.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered pornographic Web site promoter LCGM Inc., Madison Heights, WI, to pay undisclosed damages and attorneys' fee for sending spam to AOL members.

The court ruled that LCGM had violated AOL's trademark by using the domain name and that by trying to break through AOL's spam filtering technology, LCGM had committed fraud. The ruling was the first time a court applied existing computer fraud laws to an anti-spam suit.

The same court also ordered Prime Data, Bowling Green, KY, and its principal, Vernon Hale, to pay undisclosed damages to AOL and punitive damages triple that of actual damages. The court also granted AOL a permanent injunction barring Prime Data from sending e-mail to AOL or its members.

"These legal victories underscore the court's recognition that junk e-mail damages both our members and AOL," said Randall Boe, AOL's associate general counsel. "They also deliver a strong message: AOL will not tolerate junk e-mail on its network and will take every legal step necessary to respond to our members' complaints and protect their online experience."

In the third suit, the Virginia court ordered IMS, Knoxville, TN, its principal, Joe Melle, and two people associated with the firm -- credit repair marketer Brian Robbins and spam software marketer Neil Byron Goodson -- to pay an undisclosed amount in actual damages and triple punitive damages. The court also granted AOL a permanent injunction barring the three defendants from sending AOL or its members e-mail or ever using the service again.

AOL also announced it has brought lawsuits against nine unsolicited bulk e-mailers in five states: Virginia, Iowa, Florida, California and New York.

"We want spammers everywhere to know that we will find you and come after you in court," Boe said.

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