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Amazon Fighting False Use of Its Name

August 27, 2003|From Reuters

Free cash, human growth hormones and penile pills are not available at Inc., and the Internet's biggest retailer is suing marketers who use its name to sell those products to unwary consumers.

Amazon said Tuesday that it is seeking millions of dollars in punitive damages from 11 online marketers in a crackdown on e-mail advertisements that falsely bear the Amazon address and sully its name.

Amazon's lawsuits, filed in the United States and Canada, raise the profile of marketers fighting an onslaught of "spoofers" who use brand names in their e-mail addresses to lure unsuspecting customers.

Advertisers say the forgeries, part of the explosive growth of unsolicited e-mails called spam, hurt their brand credibility with consumers and damage the Internet as a legitimate direct marketing channel.

In one case, the New York attorney general's office worked with Amazon to reach a settlement with, owned by a Brooklyn-based home appliance retailer. agreed to pay New York state $10,000 in penalties, keep records of commercial e-mails and stop using other companies' names in its marketing without permission.

The company also reached a preliminary deal with Amazon for an unspecified sum, Amazon said.

In other lawsuits, Seattle-based Amazon accused companies and individuals from California to Canada of advertising hormone therapies, organ enhancements and auto warranties via e-mails ending in the address ""

Amazon's U.S. lawsuits were filed in federal courts in San Francisco, Phoenix, Miami, New York, Seattle, Tampa, Fla., and Milwaukee.

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