by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
betsy feist, browsers, defamation, hijacking, search

milberg, paxfire

Paxfire Sues The Lawyers And Individual Who Filed A Class Action Lawsuit Over Its Search Redirects

from the can-it-back-it-up? dept

Well, well. Following a research paper that claimed that a company named Paxfire was teaming up with some ISPs to hijack search terms and take people directly to certain websites, a class action lawsuit was quickly filed. Paxfire wasted little time in responding angrily that the basis of the lawsuit was completely wrong, and saying that it would seek sanctions against the lawyers for filing it in the first place. Now the company has taken things even further and filed a countersuit against the law firm, Milberg LLP, as well as the individual, Betsy Feist, who as a client of Milberg, was the official person who kicked off the attempted class action lawsuit. Paxfire is charging, as you might imagine, both defamation and tortious interference -- and is demanding a whopping $50 million. It should be interesting to see what happens next. The thing with these kinds of lawsuits is that they do expose to the world certain things, so if Paxfire can't back up its claims, then it's going to be in a world of hurt.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    fb39ca4, Sep 6th, 2011 @ 10:55pm

    Of course this will backfire.

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

  2. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 6th, 2011 @ 11:23pm

    Roughly paraphrased
    "There was no business relationship between the users and Paxfire."

    So providing a "service" to the ISP customers was not part of your business model?

    I do find it interesting that, IIRC, that after this story broke many ISPs ran for cover. And it appears that after this went public several searches meant for Google were allowed to complete but traffic for Bing and Yahoo still had some terms redirected.

    This strikes me as a classic SLAP lawsuit filed by Paxfire, trying to keep their business model afloat. Grabbing mistyped URLs and redirecting search traffic is not what customers want or expect. It should strike the average person as being completely underhanded.

    I often wonder if the "average" user has any idea how much tracking is done of them as they wander across the net. That there are people earning quite a bit of money from each transaction you complete online. That things you buy and look at are tracked and used to target you to buy more things.

    The interference with their business, would be drawing attention to what might be shady underhand tactics not being clearly spelled out by the ISPs using the "service" and reaping the benefits? That if there was an opt-out system, it was not very useful as most people just moved onto DNS providers who were considered more reliable because they did not secretly hijack what you were doing online.

    I use OpenDNS, its free and when something won't resolve I land on an OpenDNS page that offers suggestions. But they do not step in to my use of Google or any other search engine. I knew this page existed, and its part of the trade for using their service. I think I've seen it all of 5 times. My actual ISP's DNS was failing to find simple things, like my Credit Union website which is why I moved away from it. Normally I would support the idea that the net interrupts censorship as damage and routes around it, but when your ISP is doing something at this level they are actively breaking the agreement to provide you service. If I can't type correctly let me hit the can't find that page and learn, don't try to earn a portion of the commission if I buy an iThingy.

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

  3. icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Sep 6th, 2011 @ 11:24pm

    Let us know how that works out for you, Paxfire.

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

  4. icon
    rstr5105 (profile), Sep 7th, 2011 @ 12:17am


    I wholeheartedly concur.

    I actually preferred the internet prior to the extinction of the 404 page....

    (Okay, I *know* it's not extinct, but with all the domain squatters and ABSRds I see out seems to be a dieing breed.)

    P.S. Did anyone else notice that the Acronym for "Address Bar Search Re-directs is remarkably close to the word "Absurd"?

    P.P.S If you didn't, I bet you do know. XD

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

  5. icon
    rstr5105 (profile), Sep 7th, 2011 @ 12:22am

    Re: Re:

    P.P.P.S. Where I live there are only two *big* players in the world of Internet, Charter and Centurylink....

    Both of these companies engage in this *Absurd* (heh) Behavior. I almost signed on with Centurylink, until this guy from a little mom and pop ISP walked into my store the other day.

    Modem Lease $0.00/mth
    Static IP $0.00/mth
    7Mb x 896Kb ADSL line /$25.00

    #Of ABSRDs 0/mth

    Granted they use routers that are on the "Clearaccess" system, meaning that they use AC Servers to configure my modem/router....or they would, but they don't care if you shut it off. =D

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 12:48am


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

  7. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 7th, 2011 @ 12:48am


    The sad thing is it might work very well.
    If her legal team does not have a large war chest, or if she panics it is possible she will just fold.

    Take the case of the blogger who runs WTForever21, she got legal advice when F21 made stupid demands in a letter.
    The lawyer told her to fold.
    If not for a huge amount of coverage all over the web, here included, she might not have ever understood that it was just a letter to scare her. That they lacked any real standing to do anything other than send a scary letter.

    This is a viable model in our court systems now, someone exposes something not so good about you and you file a lawsuit against them. Heck a few stories down we have the "religious" group that pulled a copyright lawsuit out of thin air to find the names of the bloggers who were critical of their former religion, and it seems to have worked.

    We have our new economic model, its everyone suing everyone else for a kajillion dollars. These "robot overlords" I keep hearing people talk about are looking better and better all the time. At least then there would be logic involved.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 4:11am


    Their whole business model is to do something annoying and hope that the general public doesn't catch on. I think it's safe to say that drawing attention to themselves is going to seem unwise in retrospect.

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

  9. identicon
    StrongStyle81, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 5:20am

    They never learn

    Do they? They should start teaching the Streisand effect in kindergarten along with look both ways before you cross the street.

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

  10. identicon
    NullOp, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 5:34am


    It's a real shame that stories like this never reach mainstream news. One could hope, albeit in vain, such bad behavior could effect Paxfire. Basically what Paxfire is wanting to do is hijack the freedoms found on the internet. Or in other words, hijack your freedom of the pursuit of happiness. Yep! Another company tries to steal your rights in the name of profit!

    Oust Obama in 2012!

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

  11. identicon
    fb39ca4, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    where do u live that's an awesome price!

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward2, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Re: CenturyLink DNS

    I was recently a CenturyLink customer. I only left them because I moved to another state.

    They DO have an untainted DNS you can use. Call tech support or search some of the user forums.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 6:55am


    Open DNS shouldn't be redirecting your search either. Here is a free (as in beer) tool that will help you to find DNS servers that 1). don't redirect, and 2). are fastest to your location.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 8:07am

    Re: Shame

    stick your political sloganism up your ass.

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

  15. identicon
    Stuart, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 8:22am

    Re: DNS

    They absolutely should.
    It is how they make money.
    They are very open about it as well.
    They also provide much more than PODNS.
    OpenDNS is fast, reliable and gives me stats.
    Would never have children without it.

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

  16. icon
    DannyB (profile), Sep 7th, 2011 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re:

    Try this:
    ABSURD = Address Bar Search & Url Re-Directs?

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

  17. icon
    Atkray (profile), Sep 7th, 2011 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: Shame

    How about being a decent chap and just asking politely for him to quit dragging Obama into all his posts?

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

  18. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 7th, 2011 @ 3:10pm

    Re: DNS

    OpenDNS is NOT redirecting my search.
    They only pop up the page when I screw up, and I was well aware of this when I started to use the service.
    If my ISP started doing this, I think I would have issues with it. I pay them to connect me to the interwebs, not to try and find another profit stream in another service I do not want.

    I opted-in to OpenDNS and I knew what I was doing.
    Paxfire, while claiming they did nothing funny, continued to work with partners who did NOT disclose they were using the service. In fact Paxfire benefited from those partners taking the heat from the handful of angry people who knew what was going on.

    Offering an Opt-Out system that you do not force your partners to make clear to their customers sort of highlights how shady they are. Did Paxfire offer the opt-out on every page they served? They should have shouldn't they? Its not my fault we are making money off of what your doing, we can't make our partners behave. Then why do your contracts not cut them off when they do not meet the "requirements" you say matter to you... oh thats right the money your making means it is all ok.

    Yet another little thing someone is doing to make money, doesn't matter if its sleazy or not. Doesn't matter if it might run afoul of the smell test. Its all still "legal" so we should do it.

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

  19. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 7th, 2011 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Shame

    Because Obama made all of this happen?
    Did you eat many lead paint chips as a child, or did your mother just keep dropping you to hear that nice thumping noise.

    What is happening is the fault of both sides of the aisle, and more of the people who keep elected them based on the fear mongering each side does.

    People are more concerned of having control over another womans uterus than they are about the billions being wasted on pet projects. They are more worried about those evil terrorists than they are about having to be sexually assaulted to get onto a plane. They do not think "they" will be spied upon by the Government because they are good people and they would never do that to good people.

    When people stop looking at the issues they keep misdirecting us to look at, and look at the real problems facing us and stop trying to blame one side or the other then we will have change. But as long as we have people who think this is all a democrat or republican driven problem the rest of us are screwed. The problem is you "Mr. Uninformed Voter" you refuse to see the world past the end of your nose until they have pushed your nose against the wall.

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

  20. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 7th, 2011 @ 3:18pm


    Finally a programming language I could learn!

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

  21. identicon
    Digger, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: Re:



    Fully ABSURD to me

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

  22. identicon
    Tom, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 10:57am

    Minor Ventures created Paxfire and OpenDNS

    I heard that paxfire and opendns use technology that was invented at minor ventures. Does anybody know?

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

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