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Ferguson v. Friendfinders, Inc., 94 Cal.App.4th 1255, 115 Cal.Rptr.2d 258 (2002) (full-text).

Factual Background[]

A California resident sued two California businesses and an individual, alleging that defendants violated California Bus. & Prof. Code § 17538.4 by sending him unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) — also known as “spam” — that was deceptive and misleading. The lower court ruked that the statute “unconstitutionally subjects interstate use of the Internet to inconsistent regulations, therefore violating the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”[1]

Appellate Court Proceedings[]

The appellate court reversed, holding that the statute only regulated spam sent to California residents through an e-mail service with equipment within the state, by requiring that the sender identify itself, provide a way for recipients to get removed from the email list, and to include the message “ADV:” as the first four characters of the subject line. As a result, the court found that there was no violation of the dormant Commerce Clause.


This case follows an earlier ruling by the Washington state Supreme Court,[2] which upheld a similar state law against the an identical claim.


  1. U.S. Const., art. I, §8, cl. 3.
  2. State v. Heckel, 143 Wash.2d 824, 24 P.3d 404 (2001) (full-text).