Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Claria Settles The Wrong Lawsuit

from the bad-idea dept

I am obviously no fan of Claria. However, the law is completely on their side when it comes to popping up advertisements on certain sites. The problem with Claria (and, specifically, their Gator adware product) isn't that it pops up competitors ads, but that many users have no idea they installed it. The installation process for Gator is incredibly sneaky, leading many people to not even realize they have it on their machine. For those who do realize they have it on their machine, Claria is not particularly upfront about what they're doing (watching where you surf and popping up ads) or how to get rid of it. I'll admit that I don't know why people would want to have that app on their desktop, but the problem isn't the app itself, but how its installed and what they tell people the app is doing. So, when some websites complained that Claria was popping up competitive ads when surfers visited their sites, Claria was in the right. If the user wanted to have those ads shown, they should be allowed to. There was no trademark infringement - because no one is trying to confuse people into thinking that they were on a different site. They were just showing alternatives. So, it's a bit upsetting to find out that Claria has settled the lawsuits rather than see them go to court (where it's likely they would win -- but you never know for sure). While many people (including myself) dislike Claria's business practices, that's no reason to celebrate this settlement -- as it only means we'll be seeing plenty more of these lawsuits, sometimes directed against more upstanding companies. An end user should have the right to do whatever they want to their surfing experience -- even if it means popping up ads of competitors on sites they visit. This settlement is a setback for people being able to do what they want on their own computers.

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  • identicon
    Not a Lawyer, 1 Sep 2004 @ 1:21am

    USA: Most Litigious Society

    Goes to show that lawyers can bleed companies dry -- esp. startups -- the strength of your case isn't what matters.

    Funny true story: Terrorists were surveying Las Vegas casinos, taking video tape of them. Video tapes were seized. Casino managers were allowed to view these tapes, to understand the terrorist's thinking. They allegedly declined! Why? Viewing the videos might make them more liable for future damages.

    What a mixed up society we have in the USA.

    But I'm not moving... maybe the lawyers will... :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Griffon, 1 Sep 2004 @ 10:29am

    Yes but..

    I agree, and yet them settling will lead to lots more of these types of suites which with a little luck will kill off some of these shit bag spy ware pushers simple through finical assualt... not a bad thing IMO. Of course it will eventually get out of control.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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