California Court of Appeals Deals Setback to Spamigators

Not Deceptive to Use Brand Name Instead of Corporate Name or Traceable URL in From Line

win for guthyThe California Court of Appeal (2nd District) has upheld the dismissal of Greg Rosolowski’s spam lawsuit against Guthy-Renker.  Rosolowski had tried to base a claim under the California Anti-Spam Act that Guthy-Renker’s use of names like “Proactiv Special Offer,” “Wen Hair Care,” “Proactiv Special Bonus Deal,” “Wen Healthy Hair,” “Wen by Chaz Dean,” “Proactiv Bonus Deal,” “Proactiv Bonus Gift,” and “Proactiv: Special Offer,” in the from line since they were not names or registered fictitious business names of existing entities, and are not traceable to Guthy via a WHOIS database search.

In Rosolowski v Guthy Renker, LLC, Plaintiffs’ argued that by Guthy-Renker using “the name of defendant’s various products. . . its spams say they are coming from people and companies that don’t even exist.”  The trial court rejected this argument as “akin to complaining that an email from ‘Buick’ is falsely labeled because, in [Plaintiffs’] view, the sender should read ‘General Motors Corporation.”

In a strongly worded opinion, the trial court denied leave to amend, explaining that

this is exactly the kind of case which the CAN-SPAM Act was intended to pre-empt to avoid vexatious litigation of no substantial social value.

Presiding Judge Klein affirmed, explaining that

Irrespective of the allegedly untraceable domain names herein, the identity of the sender was readily ascertainable from the body of the emails; therefore, Plaintiffs failed to state a cause of action against Guthy for misrepresented header information under section 17529.5, subdivision (a)(2).

The court also rejected Plaintiffs attempt to trigger liability based on whether the email subject line alone was misleading and not whether the emails are misleading in their entirety.