Spamhaus decides to fight first US court action

Out-Law News | 18 Oct 2006 | 2:35 pm | 1 min. read

Anti spam organisation Spamhaus will recognise an Illinois court's authority when it fights a $11.7 million order against it. Previously the London based not-for-profit had argued that the court has no jurisdiction over it.

The company has filed papers with the Illinois court room saying that it will fight the case brought against it by email marketing company e360insight. E360 claims that it is a reputable email marketing company and sued Spamhaus because it was put on the 'blocklist' which Spamhaus operates in order to identify spammers and keep their messages out of inboxes.

The judge issued a default ruling in favour of e360 because Spamhaus did not defend the case. Spamhaus was ordered to stop its operations in the US if it did not pay the $11.7m awarded against it.

Spamhaus has now filed an appeal against that decision with the Illimois court and is reported to be represented by US law firm Jenner and Block in the case.

Spamhaus's decision to fight the case comes just days after the Illinois court attempted to have internet address body ICANN suspend the domain and take the site down. Though ICANN said it did not have the authority to do that it said that the address's hosting company would. Spamhaus's hosting company is in Canada.

The move represents a change of strategy by Spamhaus, which has only once recognised a court case in the US, Spamhaus founder Steve Linford told OUT-LAW Radio recently. On that occasion the company suing Spamhaus took no further part in the suit once Spamhaus opted to defend it, he said.

"Because we get this from all over the world we don't defend ourselves in foreign courts," Linford told OUT-LAW Radio last month.  "We tell them 'if you want to sue us come to Britain'. None of them ever have because Britain has 'loser pays'."

"The spammer files in his local Court, part of the filing says Spamhaus is a US business, doing business in this State, the Judge doesn't question it and he says well where are Spamhaus, why didn't they turn up to defend themselves?" said Linford. "They couldn't be bothered, so the judgement – they owe you $2 million, and this sort of thing goes on and on."

An e360 statement maintains that Spamhaus is " is a fanatical, vigilante organization that operates in the United States with blatant disregard for U.S. law". Spamhaus could not be reached for confirmation at the time of publication.