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Class Action Defense Cases-Federal District Court Grants Motion To Dismiss Putative Class Action Alleging 180Solutions Was A Spyware Company

Illinois Federal Court Gives Defense Latest Victory in Spyware Class Action Lawsuits

Eric Benderoff of the Chicago Tribune reports today that a federal district court has granted a motion to dismiss a putative class action against 180solutions (now known as Zango), and quotes the company’s Chief Compliance Officer as stating, “[Plaintiffs] claimed we were a spyware company and that we trespass on people’s computers. We don’t do that; we are invited on the customer’s computer.” This is but the latest defense victory against such class actions: Benderoff states, “So far, there has not been a successful class-action suit against software firms that are accused of planting unwanted and irritating spyware programs on computers.” However, the article identifies at least one lawsuit where plaintiff’s lawyer “successfully argued that spyware companies were trespassing on personal property” which Benderoff describes as “a tactic lifted from environmental law.” Recent governmental efforts to attack the spyware problem may prove more successful, and Benderoff notes that the Federal Trade Commission “has brought six cases to date under its unfair and deceptive practices authority while the Justice Department has pursued spyware cases using the Wiretap Act.”

Benderoff’s article suggests that the dismissal was not based on a defense motion but, rather, on a request from the plaintiffs’ lawyer that the lawsuit be dismissed with prejudice. Based on the company’s statements, it is understandable that plaintiffs would have elected to dismiss their complaint – the company claims that customers were informed of and required to agree to the company’s software download, and denies that the software constituted “spyware.”

Eric Benderoff’s article, entitled “Class-action suit dismissed against spyware provider,” may be found in the Business section of the September 7, 2006 edition of the Chicago Tribune.