U.S. survey firm drops suit against Microsoft

Harris Interactive Inc. dropped its lawsuit against Microsoft Corp.’s Hotmail service after the company agreed to allow Harris surveys to reach users through its Hotmail Web-based e-mail addresses.

“We reached a verbal agreement yesterday afternoon,” Dan Hucko, spokesman for the online market research company, said last Friday.

“We have agreed that their e-mails will get through to those who ask for them,” Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan confirmed.

Harris conducts opinion polls via e-mail. Participants sign up to be included, either at the Harris Web site or through a link at an Internet site, such as Excite@home.com.

In July, Harris filed suit in U.S. District Court in Rochester, N.Y., against more than a dozen Internet companies and an antispam organization for improperly identifying the market-research firm as a spammer, and blocking it from sending e-mail to users.

Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC (MAPS) of Redwood City, Calif., is a member-supported organization that maintains a list of spammers called the Realtime Blackhole List. That list is distributed to Internet and e-mail service providers like America Online, Microsoft Corp.’s Hotmail, Juno Online Services and BellSouth Corp., which, along with several other services, have blocked Harris Interactive e-mail from reaching their users.

On Aug. 9, Harris dropped its suit against AOL and with the case settled with Microsoft, the two largest companies have been removed from the case.

Another Harris spokesman, Ben Black, said the company is reviewing its options for the rest of the defendants.

“Most ISPs are being quite reasonable,” he said, though Harris is not currently in discussions with MAPS.