UPS Delivers Lawsuit To Spammers

July 9, 2003 ( - United Parcel Service of America (UPS) has filed a $1 million federal lawsuit seeking damages caused by unspecified computer spammers.

The suit accuses the spammers of violating federal and state racketeering laws, federal trademark infringement laws and Georgia’s Computer Systems Act and seeks actual, punitive and treble damages as well as disgorgement of any profits the spammers may have earned after allegedly hijacking its employee and customer lists to market sexual products.   It was filed against individuals identified only as John Does 1 to 10, seeking an injunction that would bar them from transmitting e-mail messages that either purport to originate from UPS or use its trademark, according to a Fulton County Daily report.

UPS said after the spammers drug the company’s name through the cyber-mud, they were left with little choice but to seek legal remedies.   The problem of span “is threatening to get out of control,” because spammers are “illegally and improperly using our computers,” said UPS spokesman Norman Black.   “They are using our good name and the good name of our employees to promote products that are repugnant to our customers.”

The Atlanta-based company has already secured an emergency order from US District Judge Jack Camp allowing for the subpoena of computer data from Internet server to track down and identify perpetrators. In seeking the order, UPS attorneys noted that “time is of the essence” because information needed to identify and locate the spammers typically is maintained by Internet service providers for only a few days. Internet Web pages advertised by the spammers “are typically only active for a few hours or days.” Black said that UPS has issued 20 to 25 subpoenas to Internet list servers.

Problems began for the parcel company after spammers allegedly began sending thousands of unsolicited advertisements to UPS customers in March. The e-mails contained headers that made them appear to have originated from UPS or its employees, the suit claims.

The e-mails prompted hundreds of customer complaints “under the mistaken belief that the employees were responsible for sending spam e-mails,” according to the suit.

The case is UPS v. John Does One-Ten , No. 103CV1639 (N.D. Ga. June 13, 2003).