America Online Files Suit Against Three Junk E-mail Firms

January 7, 1998

DULLES, VA, January 7, 1998 - America Online, Inc. yesterday filed suit against three junk e-mail firms in its continuing battle against unsolicited bulk e-mail, also known as 'spam' The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and seeks an injunction to prevent the companies from continuing their practice of sending large quantities of unsolicited junk e-mail to AOL members. The suit also seeks damages from all three companies. The companies named in the suit are: IMS of Knoxville, Tennessee Gulf Coast Marketing of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and TSF Marketing and TSF Industries of Riverside, California. This suit follows on the heels of a federal court ruling in favor of AOL in its suit against junk e-mail firm Over the Air Equipment, Inc. In that case, AOL won a court order barring Over the Air Equipment from sending unsolicited e-mail to AOL members. Later, Over the Air Equipment dropped its challenge to the order barring it from spamming and agreed to pay AOL a substantial sum of money in damages. AOL's new suit builds on the precedent established in the Over the Air Equipment case. According to the suit, the three companies have sent America Online and its members tens of thousands of unsolicited and unwanted e-mail messages. Despite a demand by AOL that the companies stop sending unsolicited bulk e-mail, each company not only refused to stop their mailings but used a number of deceptive techniques designed to evade AOL's junk e-mail detection and filtering mechanisms, including forging 'aol.com' within their e-mail messages so the messages falsely appear to originate from an AOL member. The suit charges that in addition to defeating AOL's technology filters, the use of 'aol.com' creates the misperception among AOL members that AOL condones or even permits the highly criticized practice of sending unsolicited bulk e-mail. AOL is also charging in this suit that TSF Marketing and TSF Industries have violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in their harvesting of AOL screen names.

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