The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois against Digital Wireless Technologies seeks damages of US$1 million, plus US$25,000 for every day since Jan. 1 that the e-mails have been sent, or US$10 per e-mail.
Digital Wireless Technologies used the name "Paging America" when it began the e-mail campaign Jan. 1, according to the lawsuit. A representative at Digital Wireless Technologies refused comment Thursday morning. Messages left with two other company executives were not returned.
Motorola vice president Miguel Pellon said the lawsuit "reflects our desire to protect the value of the Motorola brand." He also asked anyone receiving the e-mails to file complaints with their state's attorney general.
The e-mails claim to offer people a free Motorola T-10 pager. "What's the Catch? Paging America would like you to use their paging service," which costs US$9.75 a month, according to a copy of the e-mail.
Motorola claims the pager is actually manufactured by Glenayre Technologies, a 35-year-old technology company.
Last week, Glenayre announced that it is no longer making any devices. A spokesman for the company was unaware of the lawsuit when reached Thursday morning and was unsure how Digital Wireless Technologies got their products.
The Glenayre pagers, some of which were actually sent to those who responded to the e-mail, have some similarities to the Motorola T-10. They are both two-way pagers, and the Glenayre pager uses some Motorola software.
But the T-10 has a 70,000-character memory, while the Glenayre pager has 50,000 characters of memory. The T-10 has an automatic garbled message correction and the ability to save a new message when the pager is out of reach, while the Glenayre device does not.
Consumers worldwide received the mailings even after they attempted to opt out by replying with the word "remove" in the subject line of the e-mail, according to the lawsuit.
One person who received the e-mails, an executive at a publishing company who requested anonymity, said he tried about a dozen times to get the e-mail stopped before finally contacting Motorola. He also maintains an e-mail marketing list for his company.
"It made me so angry that we have to work so hard to follow the rules, but these guys didn't--and didn't even after people started complaining," the man said.
The e-mail landed in the in-boxes of many Motorola executives, even after the company filed a formal "cease and desist" request with the company in February, according to Motorola executives.
"I got one this morning," said Motorola spokeswoman Josephine Posti.
The lawsuit claims Digital Wireless Technologies violated several federal rules and regulations, including unfair competition, deceptive trade practices, and unsolicited e-mail statutes, and helped weaken the Motorola trademark.