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Email Marketer Sues Microsoft, Yahoo, Return Path, Cisco Ironport

By Ken Magill

An e-commerce services firm is suing Microsoft, Yahoo, Return Path and Cisco Ironport Systems, claiming that mass email campaigns it sends on behalf of clients have been wrongly blocked from reaching recipients.

In two separate complaints filed on Oct. 29, Lansdale, PA-based HolomaXx Technologies accuses the four firms of intentionally interfering with HolomaXx’s ability to send emails to Microsoft and Yahoo users who specifically requested to receive the messages.

According to HolomaXx, Yahoo and Microsoft began blocking HolomaXx’s messages after the firm acquired its own block of IP addresses and began sending from them in June.

As a result, the complaints claim, Yahoo and Microsoft have disrupted HolomaXx’s contractual relationships and threatened its ability to survive as a business.

Moreover, the complaints allege, Microsoft and Yahoo have “intentionally and recklessly disregarded HolomaXx’s repeated requests to cease their conduct and … have refused to provide any information that would permit HolomaXx to remedy the situation.”

In the Yahoo complaint, HolomaXx continues: “To add insult to injury, Yahoo has informed HoloMaXx that it will only consider accepting emails from HolomaXx after a six-month waiting period, and only if HolomaXx ‘significantly changes’ its email policies—despite the fact that HolomaXx is sending legitimate email, and Yahoo has explicitly refused to identify any actual problem with any emails sent by HolomaXx.”

In the Microsoft complaint, HolomaXx accuses the software giant of “knowingly [relying] on faulty automated filters, and equally faulty third-party information, to identify purported spam emails.”

The complaints also accuse the firms of intentionally intercepting private communications with its clients.

HolomaXx claims its campaigns are permission based and Can-Spam compliant.

“Among other things, HolomaXx’s clients must typically require that subscribers provide their name, postal address, email and phone number,” the complaints state. “In order to prevent false registrations, subscriber registrations are then commonly confirmed via email.”

HolomaXx also claims it has registered for all available feedback loops, that it monitors clients’ spam complaint rates and that it will suspend the accounts of those whose complaints are too high.

The company claims that since it began tracking complaints in 2002, it has maintained a complaint rate of between 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent.

Specifically, HolomaXx alleges, its Microsoft complaint rates have been consistently at or below 0.5 percent and its Yahoo complaint rates have been at or below 0.1 percent.

Spam-complaint rates are a significant metric ISPs use to determine if incoming email is wanted by recipients or not.

HolomaXx claims it typically sends 10 million emails a day.

“Both HolomaXx and its clients are rightly wary of being treated as spam, by customers, regulators, or Internet service providers,” the complaints state. “HolomaXx therefore guards its reputation carefully, adhering to industry best practices for sending protocols and customer list management, and monitoring its clients to ensure that they do the same.”

HolomaXx seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring that, among other things, Return Path and Cisco Ironport change its reputation score to reflect its claim that it’s not a spammer, and that the four defendants stop interfering with the transmission of its campaigns.

The firm also seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees.

In response to a request for comment, Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path said: "This suit is baseless and without merit. We are going to vigorously defend ourselves." 

Both complaints were filed in federal court in San Jose, CA.

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