Zango Sues Spyware Remover, Again

For the second time, adware provider Zango has sued a software developer over its anti-spyware solution, this time targeting PC Tools and its popular Spyware Doctor program that comes with Google Pack. Zango, previously known as 180solutions, sued Zone Labs in late 2005.

Like its previous lawsuit regarding ZoneAlarm, Zango claims Spyware Doctor illegally removes Zango software from users' PCs without their express permission. PC Tools has rated Zango an "elevated" threat currently, but is in the process of reclassifying the software, perhaps to a more critical rating.

Zango is demanding $35 million in damages from PC Tools for causing "irreparable harm."

PC Tools said in a statement that it believes Zango is simply trying to influence the reclassification, perhaps to scare the company into not highlighting the Zango software as a threat. Zango claims its software "has been consensually installed by millions of users," but many experts dispute this claim.

Moreover, Sunbelt Software CEO Alex Eckelberry says that Spyware Doctor does, in fact, provide ample warning before removing Zango. "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 in a blog post.

Sunbelt, although it makes a competing anti-spyware product, has offered PC Tools any forensic evidence it needs to defend itself. However, if its past actions are any indication, Zango may not be planning to truly pursue the case. It dropped its lawsuit against Zone Labs in early 2006.

Shortly after filing its lawsuit against Zone Labs, the company also promised to clean up its act by ending the distribution of 180search Assistant and releasing Seekmo Search Assistant instead, which it said includes technologies to help reduce the number of unauthorized installations. The company later renamed itself to Zango upon merging with fellow adware provider Hotbar.

Last November, Zango agreed to pay $3 million to the FTC in order to settle charges that it deceived consumers into downloading adware and obstructed them from removing it, in violation of federal law. At the time, Zango blamed affiliates and again promised to clean up its act.

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