Spyware Weekly Newsletter :· June 26, 2003

Ownership of the term "Spybot" is still in dispute

Update June 27, 2003

Howard Goff, the person that registerd the trademark on "Spybot" and owns spybot.com, has announced publicly that he intends to abandon the trademark at the earliest opportunity. If this is so, then this situation is resolved.


On June 24, SpywareInfo announced a boycott of InBoxCop Inc., InboxCop, inboxcop.com, and spybot.com. Our reasons for calling for this boycott were based on the owner of InBoxCop Inc., John Gotts, making what appeared to be threats against Patrick Kolla, developer of Spybot S&D antispyware software.

That announcement is now located here: http://www.spywareinfo.com/articles/inboxcop/boycott.php

In a letter to Kolla, Gotts indicated that InBoxCop had filed for a trademark on the word "Spybot" for software that finds and removes spyware, and that Kolla was infringing on that trademark. The letter indicated that there were plans to release commercial software under the name "Spybot"; and that they would use legal means to protect their trademark if they had to do so. Gotts also pointed out that the domain name, spybot.com, had been registered and in use since 1998.

The site at spybot.com is being used to sell InBoxCop antispam software. Prior to June 25, there were graphics on the site displaying Spybot "spyware killer", a Panicware logo, and a graphic of Grisoft's AVG program. The purpose of the site is to persuade visitors to register for a free trial of InBoxCop. Above the form where a visitor fills out their contact information, there was a message saying that free download links to AVG antivirus and Spybot S&D would be provided after registration.

Patrick Kolla announced all of this on his web site on June 21, and called for a boycott of spybot.com and InBoxCop. After this was pointed out to me and after looking into the web site myself, I also called for a boycott of InBoxCop Inc. and spybot.com.

John Gotts arrived on SpywareInfo's message board to make a few posts. Initially, he denied making the threats. However, after some replies and counter - replies, he had this to say:

First of all I am going to start this letter with a formal apology to Patrick. I am sorry for upsetting you and InboxCop and the owner of the domain spybot.com (we) have no intention of suing you or preventing you from using the spybot name.

We will place a clear and visible link on the spybot.com page that says:

To download Spybot anti-spy software go to www.security.kolla.de

InboxCop has absolutely no affiliation with the makers of Spybot S&D software.

That's all well and good, but this does not resolve the situation. The trademark of the word "spybot" and the domain spybot.com both have been registered by another person, Howard Goff, not InBoxCop. There is a business relationship of some sort between Goff and Gotts, but according to both men now, InBoxCop Inc. never had the authority to make decisions relating to spybot.com or the trademark on the word "spybot".

In a telephone conversation with Mr Goff on June 25, he assured me that, at this time, there will be no legal action whatsoever taken against Patrick Kolla for distributing software under the name "Spybot". Unfortunately, Mr Goff refused to say that there never would be legal action and left that option open.

I suggested that Mr Goff needed to be in contact with Patrick Kolla and work this situation out to a resolution as soon as possible. However, he indicated that he would wait until the situation calmed down and didn't want to discuss the situation with Kolla while he was angry.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure that I should believe either John Gotts or Howard Goff. In any event, spybot.com no longer mentions links to download Spybot in its registration pitch, the graphics have been removed, and there is now a disclaimer about Spybot S&D not being a product of spybot.com and there is also a link to Kolla's web site.

I am satisfied that InBoxCop Inc. does not present a threat to Patrick Kolla, and am now officially calling off our boycott of InBoxCop Inc., InBoxCop, and inboxcop.com. If you have posted about our boycott on any message board or on your web site, please update the posting.

However, I am not satisfied that Howard Goff does not present a threat. After pressing him on the issue, Goff stated that he would not rule out taking legal action to enforce the trademark he has registered. He said that he would discuss the situation with Kolla, however he wouldn't do it while he is angry and gearing up for a legal battle.

I'm sorry, but sometimes you have deal with a person who is extremely upset, whether you like it or not. I will not allow this issue to drop out of memory. I will display a prominent link on every page of SpywareInfo.com leading to the article that discusses this situation so that it remains available to our 200,000 monthly visitors. I will make certain that this threat remains a public matter until I believe that the threat is gone.

After Mr Kolla and Mr Goff, or their respective representatives, are in contact and there is a good faith effort to come to some agreement about Kolla's use of the name "Spybot", I will decide if it is appropriate to step down the publicity.

I strongly suggest that everyone read this entire message board thread that developed on this issue. http://www.spywareinfo.net/rd/19


Links:

http://www.spywareinfo.com/articles/inboxcop/ Permanent location of this article
http://security.kolla.de/ Spybot's Home Page
http://www.spywareinfo.net/rd/19 Post a comment on this story


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Links:

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spywareinfo.com addresses being spoofed by viruses

I need to warn everyone about some new virus going around that is spoofing the "From:" address. Several days ago, I began receiving bounces from people for emails sent supposedly from service@spywareinfo.com that contained a virus. So many bounces came in that I just simply rerouted that address to the email server blackhole. I have also received one bounce with a virus that spoofed the email address from which this newsletter is sent.

First of all, no one at SpywareInfo uses service@spywareinfo.com. Second, I do not send emails other than the newsletter from the newsletter@ address. The virus that bounced to me was over 110KB in size, which is much, much larger than any newsletter I would ever send.

Update your antivirus software, scan to make sure you are not infected, and don't open any email attachment you don't know is coming.

Update for AT&T customers

Oops. I was wrong. att.net dial-up customers are not effected by the upcoming switch to comcast.net. No need to unsubscribe if you haven't. If you have, you can resubscribe at http://www.spywareinfo.com/subscribe/.

Those of you at attbi.com, I will hold off unsubscribing your addresses for now. If I receive a large number of bounces, I may change my mind, but for now I will hold off. Comcast has promised to forward email to your new comcast.net addresses. However, I have heard from quite a few @home refugees that switched to Comcast who say Comcast handled that switch over very poorly. Please, go ahead and see if your new Comcast address is working on June 30, and if it is, please subscribe to that new address.