Adware Company Sues Its Own Affiliates

Matt O'Conner
BELLEVUE, Wash. — Adware maker 180solutions, best known for a 2004 scandal in which the company was accused of stealing commissions from its own affiliates, is now suing seven former affiliates, alleging that they used underhanded tactics to install unwanted software on users’ computers.

According to the motion filed in King County Superior Court, 180solutions paid the defendants a total of around $60,000 for installing the software on several thousand computers.

The company claims 180solutions did not profit from these installations because the users probably noticed the software and uninstalled it before they viewed many of the ads the software is supposed to serve up.

"A year ago, it was probably more money to be had off of that, but with the proliferation of scanning, if that got on someone's machine, they'd probably delete it," Sean Sundwall, a spokesman for 180solutions, said. "There's zero financial incentive to get an illegitimate install."

180solutions is desperate to repair its severely damaged image as questionable practices have brought widespread criticism from the technology press, threats of litigation from consumer groups, financial pressure from investors and blacklisting by anti-spyware firms.

Last year, 180solutions faced “thiefware” allegations when Harvard researcher Ben Edelman released a report accusing the company of inserting its own affiliate codes into merchant websites, leading the merchants to believe users had reached the sites through 180solutions rather than through its affiliates. The company denied the accuracy of the report.

The defendants named in 180solutions’ complaint are Eric de Vogt of Breda, Netherlands; Jesse Donohue of South Melbourne, Australia; Khalil Halel of Beirut, Lebanon; Imran Patel of Leicester, United Kingdom; Zarox Souchi of Toronto; and Youri Van Den Berg of Deventer, Netherlands.