"Adware": Research, Testing, and Suits
Benjamin Edelman - Berkman Center for Internet & Society - Harvard Law School

[ Introduction - Research - Pending Suits ]

This is an archived page. For updates, see the current version of this page on benedelman.org.


A number of firms currently design and offer so-called "adware" software -- programs that show advertisements on a user's computer screen. Some adware programs follow the design model anticipated by whatis.com's definition of adware: "any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running." But other programs expand beyond this definition by running continuously and by showing advertisements specifically tailored to the web sites that users visit. Companies making programs in this latter category include Gator (recently renamed Claria), WhenU, and 180Solutions.

Adware programs have prompted a number of legal challenges, as described in the pending suits section, below.

The author has followed these developments generally and has been retained as an expert in certain of these suits. The research section, below, indexes his work in these cases and his related research.


Research as to Adware Advertisements and Targeting

Gator / Claria GAIN

WhenU Save / SaveNow

180Solutions n-CASE


Pending Suits against Designers of Adware


Gator's activities have prompted a number of legal challenges. This section attempts to chronicle key suits to the best of the author's ability, but this section is unlikely to be comprehensive; a thorough search of Google, LexisNexis, and/or Westlaw will likely yield additional cases and additional information as to recent updates. Send suggested additions to Ben Edelman.


WhenU has been sued by 1-800 Contacts, Overstock.com, Quicken Loans, U-Haul, Weight Watchers, and Wells Fargo. See summary judgment order (PDF) in U-Haul case (dismissing claims against WhenU) and preliminary injunction order (PDF) in 1-800 Contacts case (granting preliminary injunction enjoining WhenU from delivering certain pop-up advertisements).

The author works as a technical expert in the Quicken Loans and Wells Fargo matter.


Related Suits

New.net v. Lavasoft: Claim by designer and distributor of controversial NewDotNet addressing software against designer of software that, upon a user's request, removes NewDotNet and other programs deemed adware. Alleges false advertising, unfair competition, trade libel, and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. Complaint.


The author anticipates additional research in the future as to these and similar programs. Please send email with suggestions or requests.

Last Updated: December 24, 2003 - Sign up for notification of major updates and related work.