Online market research company Harris Interactive has settled its suit against America Online Inc., Dulles, VA. The company dropped all federal charges against AOL in conjunction with its July 31 lawsuit, in exchange for AOL restoring Harris' communication capabilities on the service, according to reports.
The suit claimed that Harris Interactive's name was unfairly and arbitrarily placed onto Mail Abuse Prevention System's Realtime Blackhole List. MAPS' action prompted the named Internet service providers to block Harris Interactive from corresponding with many of its registered subscribers.
To restore service, AOL changed its ISP from AboveNet.com to another ISP not affiliated with MAPS. Litigation against remaining defendants in the case will continue.
“We are pleased with AOL's action and their swift understanding of the magnitude of this issue,” said Gordon S. Black, chairman and CEO of Harris Interactive, Rochester, NY. “Today marks a major first step in our effort to ensure full protection against unfair and undemocratic practices that can emerge as a result of self-regulation by organizations such as MAPS.”
Harris filed suit last week in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, seeking injunctive relief and significant monetary damages from AOL, Microsoft's Hotmail unit, Qwest, Juno Online Services, Bell South and a handful of other ISP defendants.
The ISPs' blocking has affected 2.7 million of Harris' 6.6 million panel members, including 600,000 active participants in its Internet-conducted market research, according to the company.
The suit claimed the suspension is also preventing some parties from accessing Harris Interactive's Web sites and joining its interactive panel.