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Symantec wins $3 million in counterfeit-ware suit

The security software maker wins a judgment against one of America's more famous spammers, after a court rules that Maryland Internet Marketing was selling counterfeit Symantec applications.

Security software maker Symantec won a $3 million judgment against one of America's more famous spammers after a court ruled that Maryland Internet Marketing was selling counterfeit Symantec applications.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, awarded Symantec the judgment against Baltimore-based company, which was, the court found, selling counterfeit copies of Norton AntiVirus, Norton SystemWorks and other applications through a spam campaign.

As part of the settlement of the case, Maryland Internet Marketing CEO George Moore is personally required to pay $300,000 in damages, according to Symantec. The court also barred Moore and his company from selling unauthorized Symantec products in the future.

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"In our estimation, Maryland Internet Marketing was the largest source of spammed e-mails circulating throughout the Internet in the United States, selling counterfeit Symantec software," William Plante, director of Symantec's Worldwide Security and Brand Protection Task Force, said in a statement. "As a result of this case, the frequency of such e-mails has dropped dramatically, and a sizable amount of counterfeit product has been taken out of circulation. The fact that Mr. Moore was held personally accountable speaks volumes for how serious a crime it is to sell counterfeit software."

Moore could not be reached for comment.

Maryland Internet Marketing may have also aggravated the support desk at Symantec. After Symantec shut down one spammer in Maryland earlier this year, support calls dropped from 1,500 a day to 800, Matthew Moynahan, vice president of product management at Symantec, said earlier this year.

Moore and his company wrangled with antispam activists at Johns Hopkins University earlier this year. Francis Uy, a Web coordinator at the school, posted Moore's phone number and address on a Web site that purported to list Maryland's most wanted spammers.

Moore sued, claiming that he was getting harassed by incessant phone calls and messages as a result of the posting. A court said the calls did not legally constitute harassment, but Moore said he planned to appeal.

Although some of the conduct allegedly engaged in by Maryland Internet Marketing falls within the ambit of the Can-Spam Act, Symantec is a vigorous critic of the bill, claiming that it is unenforceable. Instead, CEO John Thompson recommends forcing carriers to monitor spam traffic or charge spammers.

"If you are going to send all of this crap over my network, damn right, you should pay for it," Thompson said during a question-and-answer session at Comdex last month. At least with junk snail mail, "you know someone had to put it together and send it."

Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec filed suit against Maryland Internet Marketing in April of 2003 for claims of trademark infringement, copyright infringement and false advertising.

Symantec won similar victories against CD Micro and eCommerce this past fall. In the CD Micro case, a court awarded Symantec $10 million against the company and its CEO.