Strong Capital Management Inc., Menomonee Falls, Wis., filed suit seeking about $125 million over the alleged use of its name in mass e-mailings selling cyberstripping, computer equipment and sports betting.
In its suit filed in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee, Strong seeks damages against a number of people and companies over e-mail it claims used Strong's name in the return address and was routed through Strong's Web server.
The ads were an infraction on the trademark of Strong's name, and also broke telecommunications laws, said Jody R. Lowe, a spokeswoman for Strong.
The e-mails advertised products and services that included a cyberstripping Web site maintained by Over The Air Equipment Inc., Las Vegas.
Rick Lee, president of Over The Air, declined comment, referring questions to his attorney, who also declined comment.
Katherine White, an attorney for the two people that Strong's suit says sent the e-mails, David L. Smith and Glenn Canady, said they deny using Strong's name in bulk e-mails. She acknowledged that they have worked in the bulk e-mailing business, "which when I last looked is not illegal."
Documents filed by Strong say the senders of the mail used phony reply addresses, such as [email protected], inviting the receiver to view adult-oriented Web sites, or to call to purchase computer equipment.
Court documents indicate some recipients thought Strong was affiliated with the e-mailings.
"We figured it out very quickly, once the (approximately 250,000) e-mails started hitting," Ms. Lowe said. Shareholders contacted the firm pointing out the use of Strong's name, she said.
The e-mail sender got into Strong's Web server, not its business computer systems, and Ms. Lowe said.
Strong is seeking $5,000 per e-mail sent.
"The money isn't so much the issue; the issue is preventing them from doing it again," she said.