180solutions vs Zone Labs ?€“ adware makers are suing an anti-spyware vendor

180solutions, the notorious adware company (it distributes the infamous ZangoSearch and 180SearchAssistant adware) has filled a lawsuit against Zone Labs, maker of popular ZoneAlarm firewall and powerful ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware. 180solutions claims that Zone Labs products misleadingly detect and target its applications as parasites that “may try to track or log keystrokes (user input), mouse movements/clicks, web sites visited, and other user behaviors”. In simple phrase, 180solutions says that its software is not spyware and resents the way Zone Labs programs identify it as. Some fragments of a complaint:

?€¦180’s products are offered to users free of charge and are sponsored by advertising that users agree to view as a condition of using the products. 180’s products provide the user with access to a wide range of electronic content (such as games, music, video, a CD-burning application, an instant messaging application, television and movie listings, etc.), all of which is provided to users free of charge because of advertising revenue?€¦

?€¦180’s advertisements are generated on the user’s computers by one of two software applications that users install as an agreed condition of receiving sponsored software or content: Zango Search Assistant (“Zango”) and 180search Assistant (“180sA”). A few times per day, these applications will direct the subscriber to a sponsor’s website based on the website the user is viewing or in response to a search that the user makes?€¦

On information and belief, ZoneLabs has caused, through false and misleading statements about 180’s products, thousands of 180’s customers to remove or otherwise uninstall Zango and/or 180sA. 180 has been damaged by the wrongful removal of its applications caused by ZoneLabs’ tortious conduct.

?€¦Additionally, ZoneLabs is aware that its false and misleading statements about 180’s products that are contained in the ZoneAlarm product have caused certain content vendors to refuse to contract with 180, harming 180’s business and subscribers. ZoneAlarm Creates The Misimpression That 180’s Products Are Spyware

In all fairness, it must be noted that neither ZangoSearch nor 180SearchAssistant are actual spyware parasites, but advertising-supported programs. However, both applications have apparent spyware functions and therefore may pose a serious threat to user privacy. For instance, 180SearchAssitant is able to hijack a web browser and secretly monitor user Internet activity. Furthermore, 180solutions software was being illegally distributed during the year 2005. Spyware Warrior has a detailed list of all the incidents related to the company’s programs. It seems that both ZangoSearch and 180SearchAssistant were being illegally installed to user computers, distributed through various exploits and spam, bundled with unsolicited third-party software, etc. It does not matter how 180solutions call its applications – adware, advertising-supported programs or fully legitimate products, they are still spyware parasites by nature.

Today it is quite difficult to say whether a court will favor ZoneLabs or 180solutions. But, as reputable anti-spyware experts mentioned, what will happen if the court will decide that 180solutions products are indeed spyware parasites?