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THE CUTTING EDGE

EarthLink Expected to Announce Win in 'Spam' Suit

Internet: $2-million judgment would be the latest in a series of legal setbacks for e-mail advertiser Sanford Wallace.

March 30, 1998|GREG MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

EarthLink Network Inc. is expected to announce today that it has won a $2-million consent judgment in its suit against CyberPromotions Inc., a notorious distributor of unsolicited e-mail advertisements commonly referred to as spam.

The judgment is also expected to prohibit CyberPromotions and its founder, Sanford Wallace, from targeting EarthLink subscribers with spam or engaging in a number of other spam-related activities.

"We do not expect them to be a problem in the future," said Pete Wellborn, an Atlanta attorney who represented EarthLink, a Pasadena-based Internet service provider.

The judgment would be the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Wallace and CyberPromotions, which include receiving an injunction earlier this month barring the company from sending unsolicited e-mail to customers of Bigfoot Partners, a popular e-mail service.

Neither Wallace nor other representatives from Philadelphia-based CyberPromotions could be reached for comment. In recent interviews, Wallace has said that he has been "beaten into submission" by the legal wrangling and may leave the spam business.

For years, his company has infuriated many Internet companies and their customers by inundating users with unsolicited commercial messages. Wallace recently said he is considering altering his business so his advertisements will be received only by those who request them.

Wellborn acknowledged that EarthLink doesn't expect to collect the $2 million, but it said it represents an "insurance policy" against further offenses.

"If they start their bad conduct again, whether or not they have a penny in their pocket, we'll go after them," Wellborn said.

EarthLink filed suit against CyberPromotions in Los Angeles County Superior Court in March 1997. Two months later, it obtained an injunction forbidding CyberPromotions from accessing EarthLink's e-mail network.

According to the judgment, EarthLink can collect $1 million from Wallace personally if he violates the terms of the agreement. Wallace is also obligated to write an apology to EarthLink and its members.

Greg Miller can be reached via e-mail at greg.miller@latimes.com

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