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CA Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Vonage in Spam Lawsuit

When Craig Kleffman received 11 email messages offering broadband phone services from Vonage and noticed that they came from a variety of domain names, he found a lawyer and filed a lawsuit. Kleffman felt that these emails were spam (also known as junk emails) and as such a violation of a California spam law that prohibits marketers from sending messages with misleading headers.

spam%202.jpgWhile the emails might be annoying, the California Supreme Court ruled this week that they were not spam, and did not violate California law.

Justice Ming W. Chin wrote on behalf of a unanimous court: “We find that a single e-mail with an accurate and traceable domain name neither contains nor is accompanied by ‘misrepresented … header information’ … merely because its domain name … is ‘random,’ ‘varied,’ ‘garbled’ and ‘nonsensical’ when viewed in conjunction with domain names used in other e-mails.”

He continued: “An e-mail with an accurate and traceable domain name, makes no affirmative representation or statement of fact that is false.”

And concluded: “…we hold that, on the undisputed facts of this case, sending commercial e-mail advertisements from multiple domain names for the purpose of bypassing spam filters is not unlawful under section 17529.5(a)(2).”

The ruling (which may be viewed HERE) will likely make it more difficult for internet users to sue email marketers in California, which has an anti-spam law that is broader than the federal Can-Spam law. Generally, the federal law (which bars individuals from suing for spam violations) overrules most state spam laws. There’s an exception for state laws to be used when dealing with fraud.

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