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How can you sue an email address? That's the question US investment house Itex is asking after company lawyers issued a writ against 100 on-line identities -- despite having no knowledge of who actually uses those Ids. The Portland, Oregon-based company filed the suit after three months' of messages posted on Yahoo! that alleged Itex's "current management is blind, stupid and incompetent". Itex regards such outburts as defamatory of both the firm and its bosses, and claims they have underminded the confidence of the company's investors and customers. However, all the messages were appended with names like Orangemuscat, Investor727 and Colojopa -- in fact, the Itex suit lists 100 IDs of people "presently unknown to plaintiffs but whose true identities will be included in amendments hereto when those identities are discovered". Unfortunately, an Internet portal, not an ISP, Yahoo! itself has no way of knowing the real identities behind the handles, though under a court order it would reveal the email address and other information about Internet user who set up those accounts. And even that data could be false. Yahoo! disclaims all responsibility for the messages posted on its message boards. ®

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