Spam Fighter Habeas Wins One

Spam fighter Habeas won a legal judgment against William “Billy” Carson in the United States District Court of Northern California, with the judge awarding damages of $104,103 and enjoining Carson from using the Habeas name and trademark.

Describing the defendant as “a chronic email abuser who makes a living by sending unwanted spam to consumers,” U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong concluded that Carson’s copying of Habeas’ marks was “egregious and specifically designed to circumvent the spam filters.”

Habeas fights spam by allowing authorized senders to include a copyrighted haiku poem, known as a warrant mark, in email headers. The haiku indicates to spam filters that the accompanying message is not spam — an effort to make sure that legitimate messages get through to recipients. When that haiku is used without Habeas’ say-so, the company can file suit.

Armstrong awarded Habeas a total of $104,103.20, citing the “incalculable damage” Carson caused to the company’s goodwill.

So far, Habeas has gotten $3,876 of the $104,103.20 by garnishing money owed to Carson by the companies he promoted in his alleged spam emails. Habeas has donated the money to a nonprofit anti-spam group, the SpamCon Foundation.

This is the second judgment Habeas has won using its anti-spam lawsuit strategy. The company was founded in 2002 and has since gotten companies like Spam Assassin, AOL and Juno to recognize its haikus.

The company filed its first anti-spam suit in April 2003, later settling the suit.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome,” said Des Cahill, the company’s CEO, adding that though lawsuits are sometimes necessary, the company uses technology “first and foremost” to fight spam.

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