Amazon attacks spam spoofers

August 26, 2003

On Monday, filed 11 lawsuits in 6 states and in Ontario against spammers who send forged email which claims to originate from

Today, NY Attorney General announced an agreement with one of these companies (Brooklyn-based

"Consumers are continuing to be overwhelmed with fraudulent or unsolicited commercial email," Spitzer said. "My office is committed to protecting consumers and cleaning up the email marketing industry. This agreement sends the message that fraudulent email will not be tolerated."

The settlement agreement prohibits from using third parties' names to market, unless the company obtains authority to do so. The company is also required to keep records of all commercial emails during the next two years and provide the Attorney General's office with regular updates of its compliance with the settlement. must pay $10,000 in penalties to the State of New York.

The complaints all allege the following claims:

  • Trademark Infringement Under the Lanham Act (15 USC §1114)
  • False designation of origin under the Lanham Act (15 USC §1125(a))
  • Cyberpiracy Prevention under the Lanham Act (15 USC §1125(d))
  • Unfair Competition under the Lanham Act (15 USC §1125(a))
  • Trespass to Chattels (The spammers know that a high number of their messages would bounce, so by forging the domain name burdened Amazon's servers with the innumerable bounced messages rather than their own servers.)
  • Unfair Competition (state law)
along with these additional claims under the various states' laws:
  • False Advertising (CA)
  • Consumer Fraud (AZ)
  • Unfair Business Practice (NY)
  • Unfair Business Practice (WA)
  • Fraudulent Representations (WI)
  • Common Law Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition (WI)
In Ontario, Amazon claims:
  • Trade-mark Infringement, Passing-off and Unfair Commpetition
  • Trespass to Property
  • Interference with Economic Relations
One of the Florida complaints includes Magistrate Judge Barry Poretz's report and recommendation in America Online, Inc. v. Web Communications et. al., a similar case of spoofed spam, which found for AOL and recommended granting permanent injunctive relief, damages under the Lanham Act, punitive damages for the common law claims and attorney's fees.

AP: Sues E-Mail Marketers

NY Times: Amazon Files Suits Against Online Spoofers Amazon goes after spammers

Reuters: Amazon sues online marketers for forging e-mail

BBC News: Amazon sues over spoof e-mailers

The Globe and Mail: Amazon sues Toronto company over name use

eWeek: Amazon Ratchets Up Fight Against Spammers Amazon Goes After the Flim-Flam Man

Miami Herald: sues over sexy e-mails and sues Palm Harbor man in spamming case

Financial Times: Amazon files suits against online spoofers

The Register: cracks down on spoofers

DM News: E-Mail Marketer Agrees To Change Header Practices; Amazon Files Lawsuits

I am very interested to see what happens in these cases, since I also was a victim of a similar spam spoofing attack. Unlike Amazon, however, my domain name is not a trademark, so any decisions in this case might not have precedental value if I wanted to sue. That would require, of course, that I find the company responsible.

(Updated Aug. 28 with links to more news articles)

Posted by Andrew Raff at August 26, 2003 06:15 PM
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