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State of Washington v. Heckel

Washington State Court of Appeals
122 Wash. App. 60 (2004)


Jason Heckel (defendant), an Oregon resident, sent out several hundred thousand unsolicited spam emails per week. The emails were a sales pitch for a booklet Heckel had written. The emails contained subject lines unrelated to the booklet. After receiving complaints from Washington recipients of Heckel’s emails, the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Washington (plaintiff) sent Heckel a letter advising Heckel of Washington’s Commercial Electronic Mail Act (Act). The Act prohibited misrepresentations in unsolicited commercial email sent to an email address that the sender knew or had reason to know was held by a Washington resident. The Act also prohibited use of a third party’s Internet domain name without permission from that party. Heckel later called the Attorney General’s office and received further information regarding the Act. But Heckel did nothing to change his spamming procedure. Consumers continued to file complaints with the Attorney General’s office. In particular, some consumers claimed that Heckel had been sending emails from a domain name different than the domain name identified in the email. Additionally, Heckel was told that some of the email addresses he contacted were listed on a database of Washington residents who did not want to receive spam. Eventually, the State of Washington sued Heckel. The trial court granted summary judgment to the state. Heckel appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

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