Washington State, Microsoft File Antispyware Suits

The Washington State Attorney General's Office has filed the first lawsuit under the state's new antispyware act, alleging that White Plains, N.Y.-based Secure Computer, its president and others associated with the company used deceptive spam, misleading advertising and misleading computer scan results to entice users into purchasing its Spyware Cleaner product.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court under the Washington Computer Spyware Act, also alleges that some of the spam and pop-up ads imitated Microsoft messages and products, and even flashed warnings that spyware or viruses had been found on a user's computer. In addition, the lawsuit says Secure Computer's spyware software left computers even more vulnerable to spyware once it was downloaded.

"The lawsuit against Secure Computer sends a strong message that we will not tolerate spyware in Washington state," said Attorney General Rob McKenna at a press conference today.

Microsoft followed the state's lead and filed its own lawsuit against Secure Computer, alleging violation of the state's spyware act as well. The Microsoft suit also alleges that the Spyware Cleaner advertisements used its trademarks to falsely suggest the company sponsored or approved of the product.

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"The new antispyware act was one of the first of its kind in the country," said Nancy Anderson, deputy general counsel for Microsoft. "[Attorney General] McKenna helped build momentum to fight this, and Microsoft is proud to provide assistance...and we join in the fight by filing parallel legal actions today."