Habeas cans spammer

Peotic justice

Habeas, the company that fights spam with Japanese-style poetry, finally won a first lawsuit against a spammer.

Rather than identifying which email is spam, Habeas helps users determine which email is not spam by including a haiku, a form of Japanese poetry, in the headers of outgoing email. This haiku is trademarked and copyrighted. Habeas says over 300 million e-mail addresses worldwide use the system.

In April, the company, headed by lawyer and anti-spam activist Anne P Mitchell, filed two suits in the US District Court in California. One was against financial services marketing company Intermark Media and its affiliate Avalend, the other against Dale Heller.

Habeas accused Heller of intentionally using the Habeas warrant mark (for which he even signed a licence) to promote a book called Secrets of the Big Dogs through affiliate network ClickBank. Habeas dropped its claim against ClickBank in April, after it had become clear that the company hadn't helped Heller to violate its trademark.

Habeas also dropped its claims against InterMark Media and Avalend later that month. Instead, it went after William 'Billy' Carson, an Avalend affiliate marketer based in Florida, who, it claimed, distributed e-mails with the Habeas poem used to evade spam filters. That case is apparently still pending.

Heller may not only not use the Habeas warrant mark, he isn't allowed to send unsolicited commercial or promotional messages of any type to anyone, anywhere either, even if the messages do not contain the Habeas mark, a judge ruled.

"The system worked exactly as designed," Mitchell said in a statement. "We filed the lawsuit as soon as we received and verified the complaints, and Mr. Heller immediately stopped using our warrant mark, and it's safe to say that he will never use it again." ®

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