No one likes e-mail spam. But the California Supreme Court on Thursday seemed resigned to the inevitability of it in a case testing the state’s anti-spam law.
The justices seemed to give little credence to Los Angeles lawyer Elaine Byszewski’s argument that nonsensical domain names in e-mail headers from multiple sources violate the law by bypassing spam filters and misleading recipients into thinking they’re from different sites when they’re actually from one advertiser.
“I don’t see the significance of the garbled, nonsensical domain names,” Chief Justice Ronald George said during oral arguments in Kleffman v. Vonage Holdings Corp., S169195. He said he thought there would be nothing wrong if a company hired 10 marketing agents to send one singular message about one company’s products.
Byszewski, a partner with Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, tried to argue that screwy looking domain names such as urgrtquikz.com and openwrldkidz.com didn’t indicate the 11 e-mails sent her client were from Vonage. Domain names giving some sense that the ad came from one source would be workable.
“So it’s OK if it’s Jonesmarketing and Smithmarketing,” George asked, “as opposed to gobbledygook1 and gobbledygook2?”
The justices seemed to think that as long as the messages were accurate and traceable, there should be no problem, which led to a frick and frack exchange between Byszewski and Justice Ming Chin.
The e-mail headers were misleading, Byszewski said.
“But they are accurate?” Chin asked.
“They are accurate,” Byszewski said.
“And traceable?” Chin asked.
“And traceable,” Byszewski responded.
Elizabeth McDougall, a partner with Seattle’s Perkins Coie, argued for Vonage.