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180solutions drops suit against Zone Labs

Adware maker says lawsuit served its purpose in prompting Zone Labs to stop classifying its technology as "high risk."

Advertising software maker 180solutions has dropped its lawsuit against Zone Labs, a move that comes two months after it accused the Web security company of unfairly classifying its software as "high risk."

Two months ago, 180solutions filed suit to try to force Zone Labs to change the classification and the wording of its warnings. Zone Labs sent prompts that told some customers that 180solution's software monitored their keystrokes and mouse movements. Sean Sundwall, a spokesman for 180solutions, suggested that the lawsuit served its purpose, as Zone Labs has since altered the classification of 180solutions' software from "high risk" to "suspicious."

Zone Labs also changed its warning and says now that 180solutions' software "may be" monitoring keystrokes and mouse movements.

"The reason we ultimately dismissed the suit isn't because we agree with the labeling as it now stands," Sundwall said Monday. "It's still over the top and fear-mongering in its nature. But the slight change in labeling, combined with the shrinking relevance...of the ZoneAlarm application has allowed us to move forward with a handful of business deals that the original labeling prevented."

Zone Labs strongly denied that it relented on any of 180solutions' demands. It asserted that it told executives at the Bellevue, Wash.-based adware company that it intended to change its classifications before the lawsuit was filed.

"I think 180solutions has been very aggressive trying to negotiate with different spyware companies," said John Slavitt, general counsel for Check Point Software Technologies, parent company of Zone Labs. "I respect their right to do that. But we won't make concessions. We stuck by our guns."

Anti-spyware companies for years have accused adware companies of unethical practices, such as burying download disclosures in lengthy legalese; installing software surreptitiously through Web browser security holes; and making it difficult to uninstall the pop-up programs.