AOL wins damages in spam lawsuits

America Online (AOL) has won three more lawsuits in its campaign against companies that send unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail, commonly called spam, to AOL subscribers.

AOL announced yesterday that it has won the suits, but did not detail specific monetary awards granted by various courts, except to say the amounts are "substantial." The Internet service provider (ISP) also said it has filed nine more lawsuits in California, New York, Florida, Iowa and its home state of Virginia.

The additional lawsuits were filed against companies AOL alleges have sent spam that is pornographic or promotes get-rich-quick schemes and spam software. AOL members have complained about the spam, the ISP said.

As for the lawsuits that were settled, AOL had filed complaints against LCGM in Madison Heights, Michigan; Prime Data Systems in Bowling Green, Kentucky and IMS in Knoxville, Tennessee.

LCGM sends spam on behalf of pornographic Internet sites, AOL contended. In that case, a district court judge ruled that LCGM committed fraud by using methods and software that circumvented AOL's spam filtering technology. The judge applied Virginia and federal computer laws in the case, AOL said. The case is believed by AOL to be the first time that computer fraud laws have been applied in a spam lawsuit.

In both that case and the lawsuit involving Prime Data Systems, a district court judge in Virginia ruled that the companies violated AOL's trademark rights.

The district court also found that IMS violated federal trademark laws by forging AOL's domain name address of "AOL.com." In that case, AOL was awarded triple punitive damages, AOL said.

The new flurry of lawsuits were filed against Power Promo and Forrest Dayton in Marietta, Georgia; GreatDeals.Net in Reston, Virginia; Virtual Girlfriend Spammer in Sunland and Tujunga, California; Michael Persaud in San Diego, California; USA Home Employment in Studio City, California; National Health Care Discounts in Sioux City, Iowa; Global Marketing solutions in Orange County, Florida; First Class Advertising in Volusia and Orange counties, Florida, and The Christian Brothers in Brooklyn, New York.

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