Wireless communications giant Motorola Inc. filed a $1 million lawsuit last week against Pasadena, CA-based Digital Wireless Technologies, which is doing business as Paging America, alleging the company was spamming Motorola's customers with an offer for a free Motorola pager.
Motorola said it is not affiliated with Paging America. In fact, according to Motorola, the pager that the company was offering for free, in exchange for Paging America's service, is not even a Motorola product.
Motorola's complaint charges Paging America with unfair competition, deceptive trade practices, spamming and trademark dilution.
No one at Paging America could be reached for comment.
“Motorola made the decision to file suit after an investigation revealed that unsolicited e-mails sent to consumers misled them into believing that Motorola was affiliated with Paging America, contained Motorola trademarks and referenced 'free' Motorola pagers that, in fact, were neither 'free' nor made or manufactured by Motorola,” the company said in a statement.
Josephine Posti, a Motorola spokeswoman, said she did not know exactly how many e-mail messages were sent, but she guessed the number was in the thousands.
“A large number of Motorolans were getting spam,” she said. “I got about 100 of them myself.”
Posti noted that Motorola sent Paging America more than one cease-and-desist letter, but the company continued spamming Motorola's customers. The company's complaint notes that it sent a cease-and-desist letter in February. Posti also said Paging America verbally agreed to stop spamming Motorola's customers.
“But they never agreed in writing,” Posti said.
Motorola is seeking damages of $1 million, plus $10 for each e-mail message sent by Paging America since it began its campaign in January, up to $25,000.
In addition to Paging America, Motorola's complaint names Robert Winter, whom it identifies as secretary and controlling principal of Paging America, and David Kluge, whom it identifies as president and controlling principal of Alliance Direct Fulfillment & Telemarketing Services Inc., a California-based telemarketing firm.
Neither Winter nor Kluge could be reached for comment. Three toll-free numbers contained in various Paging America e-mail solicitations have been disconnected.
The complaint alleges that Paging America began sending e-mail solicitations to Motorola customers in January, offering them a free Motorola pager in return for Paging America activation and service at $9.75 per month. The firm advertised that it would give customers a “free, brand new Motorola Accessmate E-Mail pager” and claimed the pager was Motorola's top-of-the-line model.
Motorola said the pager advertised was not one of its available models.
“Motorola neither makes nor sells a pager under the name or mark 'Accessmate' and … the pagers distributed by defendants Paging America and [Robert] Winter to consumers responding to the advertisements … are manufactured and sold by Glenayre Technologies Inc. of Santa Clara, California, a direct competitor of Motorola, under the name 'Accessmate.' “
Motorola's complaint went on to state that Paging America misrepresented the pagers as having certain features they did not possess.
Glenayre Technologies announced in late May that it was restructuring and would eliminate its pager manufacturing business. The company said it had been unaware of the lawsuit at the time of the restructuring. The firm could not say how Paging America obtained its pagers or how many it sent to those responding to its e-mail advertisement.
“It was difficult for us to track them down,” Posti noted. “Paging America is a fictitious name used by Digital Wireless Technologies.”
She noted that the defendants have been served, but no trial date has been set.