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War on Error

John E Dunn

Adware company loses court case. Or did it?

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And so we turn to the strange case of the troubled adware company, Zango, that has pulled off the small feat of dry-cleaning a reputation so dusty you’d have thought it near impossible to even get it to a decent shade of gray.

A couple of weeks back, Zango lost a round in the courts in a fight it picked with small Australian security software outfit, PC Tools. The complaint was simply that PC Tools’ security software classified three of Zango’s programs as potentially unwanted programs (PUP).

This classification was hardly surprising: Zango has a load of trouble behind it, including a record $3 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the dodgy behaviour of its software. It has been accused of deceptive installation practices on numerous occasions.

Zango lost the legal battle against PC Tools, but did it win a small but crucial point? It turns out that PC Tools has now reclassified Zango’s software to a lower level of nuisance. Zango says it lost the court case but won the principle because PC Tools no longer marks it out for special attention, while PC Tools claims that it had re-classified the program by the time of the court case anyway, and the legal action had no bearing on this.

"We can only assume they chose to go ahead with the lawsuit so they could attempt to spin the decision and infer the re-rating was somehow influenced by legal pressure. We can categorically say their legal action had no impact on their re-rating. We will continue to be vigilant on ratings related to Zango products and others to ensure our customers are protected. We will not hesitate to re-rate them if necessary," said PC Tools CEO Simon Clausen in an email to Techworld.

Zango still hasn’t explained why it sued PC Tools in the first place (it is not the only company to have classified Zango in a negative way), though some have suggested that it picked a fight with the smallest opponent it could find in the hope of garnering publicity. It’s funny how these cases never involve the Symantecs and McAfees of the world.

It is plausible that the company has tidied up its act in the wake of the FTC ruling of last year, and decided to go legit, or at least as legit as adware can ever be. Say what you like about business models, but who wants ads served on their PC if they can help it?

Zango is back in the fold of the living for now, but there are plenty of people watching it with suspicion for a slip-up.
Zango’s view of the case can be read about in its ad-blog.


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