AOH :: ISN-2937.HTM

Suit to Proceed Against Law Firm for Hacking Into Internet

Suit to Proceed Against Law Firm for Hacking Into Internet
Suit to Proceed Against Law Firm for Hacking Into Internet 

By Michael Booth
New Jersey Law Journal
August 30, 2006

A Philadelphia-based patients' advocacy company agreed last week to
settle its claim that a West Coast Web page archivist improperly
secured copyrighted pages and thereby made them vulnerable to a third
party's hacking.

But Healthcare Advocates Inc.'s suit against the alleged hackers -- at
a Valley Forge, Pa., law firm, Harding, Earley, Follmer & Frailey --
will proceed, says the plaintiff attorney, Scott Christie.

"We will continue to vigorously pursue the Harding, Earley lawyers
responsible for this outrageous conduct and hold them accountable for
their actions," said Christie, of McCarter & English in Newark, N.J.,
in a statement announcing the settlement.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, charges that
one or more Harding Earley employees violated the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by hacking into
databases at San Francisco's Internet Archive 92 times, using an
application known as the "wayback machine," in attempts to retrieve
material that Healthcare Advocates had asked to be removed.

Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization, told Healthcare Advocates
about the searching and said it would take steps to protect those
pages. The suit claimed that Internet Archive did not follow up on
that promise but that claim was settled last week. In a statement,
Healthcare Advocates president Kevin Flynn said the company is
satisfied with security measures taken by Internet Archive to ensure
that protected pages are no longer retrievable.

The suit will continue against Harding, Earley and its client, Health
Advocate Inc. of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., a competitor of Healthcare
Advocates. The suit accuses Health Advocate of misappropriation of
trade secrets, unfair competition, tortious interference, breach of
contract, fraud, trademark and service mark violations, and unjust

Under federal law, Harding, Earley could be fined $30,000 for each
proven violation, which could amount to a total of $2.76 million.

Harding Earley partner John Earley III did not return a telephone call
last week, but said after the suit was filed last year that while a
firm employee did view Healthcare Advocates Web pages in the Internet
Archive databases, no one at the firm was guilty of wrongdoing since
they were freely available and that there were no copyright

"Once they're out there, they're public," Earley said last year. "If
they had been trade secrets, they were made public at one point and
they're no longer trade secrets and they're not protected."

Copyright 2006 ALM Properties, Inc.

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