Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft
Big Fine for Spamming AOL Members
By Bruce Balestier
New York Law Journal
December 14, 1999
A Queens-based group that markets apricot seeds as a cancer cure over the Internet has been hit with more than $600,000 in damages for clogging the computer systems of America Online Inc. with the transmission of millions of the unsolicited e-mail messages known as "spam."
Southern District Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman, in a recommendation stemming from a default judgment entered against the group, the Christian Brothers, and its president, Jason Vale, ruled that AOL was entitled to recover for unjust enrichment, since Christian Brothers unlawfully used the AOL mark and misappropriated services that otherwise could have been sold to advertisers.
He also issued a permanent injunction in America Online v. The Christian Brothers, 98 Civ. 8959, barring the group from using AOL's network and trademark.
"The Defendants' transmission of unsolicited bulk e-mail to AOL has damaged, and, if unabated, will continue to damage, AOL's business, its goodwill, and its relationship with its members," Magistrate Judge Pitman wrote. "AOL's valuable trademark and service mark and associated goodwill are diluted and damaged by their wrongful association with junk e-mail and junk e-mailers like The Defendants."