Anti-virus vendor Grisoft has filed subpeonas requesting that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo provide it with the identities of advertisers it claims are fraudulently promoting the company's products via sponsored text ads on search engines.
In addition, because the registration information for the alleged con sites used by the advertisers is not publically available, Grisoft has requested the same sort of information from domain-name registrar GoDaddy, where the websites for several of the fraudulent site operators are registered.
To date, none of the companies has provided Grisoft "with accurate, up-to-date information regarding the identities of the entities behind the fake sites," the company said in a prepared statement this week.
The statement did not provide details on the infringing sites, although published reports identified www[dot]avg-soft[dot]com as one of the offenders.
The case underscores "the transient nature of criminal organizations that exploit unfettered and unmoderated access to search engine advertising and domain registrars," the company added.
Grisoft said it is not asking for financial compensation from the companies it has subpoenaed. It "seeks only to identify the entities behind the fraudulent advertising and the operators of the fraudulent websites," it said.
"AVG was founded to protect the internet community against cyberthreats, so we find it particularly disconcerting that criminal organizations are exploiting our good name for fraudulent purposes," J.R. Smith, president and chief executive officer of Grisoft, said in the statement. "Our goal is to locate and prosecute these criminal organizations to protect our users and the integrity of the internet."
Czech Republic-based Grisoft also said it working with French police to track down the impostors.
"We have not seen the lawsuit, so we are not in a position to comment at this time," Microsoft spokeswoman Whitney Burk told SCMagazineUS.com.
Similarly, spokespeople from Google and GoDaddy told SCMagazineUS.com that their companies were not familiar with the subpoena.
A Yahoo representative did not respond to a request for comment.