Zango Sues PC Tools

Steve Javors
BELLEVUE, Wash. — Adware provider Zango has sued computer security software vendor PC Tools over its Spyware Doctor anti-spyware program, alleging that it illegally removes Zango from users PCs without notifying them.

Zango filed the suit on May 15 in King County Superior Court and is seeking immediate injunctive relief and at least $35 million in damages from PC Tools for causing “irreparable harm.”

PC Tools said in a statement released yesterday that is believes Zango is trying to pressure the company through litigation to reclassify its software from an “elevated” security threat.

“We believe the proceedings are an attempt by Zango to influence our reclassification process,” a PC Tools representative told IDG News Service. “Prior to the lawsuit we were well into an in-depth review and reclassification of the latest versions of Zango products. We advised Zango of this imminent rerating and we believe they have chosen to lodge these proceedings as a way to gain media attention of the review.”

Sunbelt Software CEO Alex Eckelberry said that PC Doctor’s spyware remover does, in fact, give users warning before identifying Zango as a security threat before removing it.

“In all cases the user is provided plenty of notice about Zango and what Spyware Doctor Starter Edition is or will be doing with Zango, which is specifically identified,” he said on his blog.

Steve Stratz, Zango’s director of public relations, refused to comment on the suit when contacted by XBIZ.

In November, Zango reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission to pay $3 million in ill-gotten gains in response to charges that it deceptively installed adware onto PCs without user consent and then obstructed its removal, violating federal law.

Under terms of the settlement, Zango also must refrain from installing software, without easy removal instructions, onto customer computers that can be monitored remotely without the user’s consent.

The settlement was not a fine levied by the FTC, nor an admission of guilt by Zango.

The case number for Zango vs. PC Tools is 07-2-15844-8SEA.