AOL wins suit against Cyber Promotions

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A court order handed down to Cyber Promotions on behalf of America Online went into effect on Friday, drawing what Cyber Promotions' President Sanford Wallace describes as a compromise between the two companies.

As part of AOL's Feb. 4 settlement with the company, Cyber Promotions may only send direct e-mail messages from five established Web domains to AOL subscribers.

Contingent on Cyber Promotions respecting that ruling, AOL users who wish to will be able to block mail from the company via a program called PreferredMail that bowed late last year, said a legal spokesman at AOL.

Philadelphia-based Cyber Promotions licenses both broadcast e-mailing software and a program called Floodgate that allows users to "harvest" e-mail addresses--the equivalent of building a mailing list without mediation from a list broker or addressee consent.

The trouble with Cyber Promotions escalated in fall 1996, when AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy responded to subscriber complaints about junk mail they'd been receiving. It's believed Cyber Promotions' clients could target as many as one million AOL users--more than 10% of AOL subscribers.

Additionally, these companies began litigation against Cyber for a handful of reasons, including trademark infringement, computer trespass and forging addresses, allowing marketing messages to appear as if they'd been sent from within an online service company.

Copyright February 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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