Timberland pays out to settle text spam lawsuit

Two companies have settled a class-action lawsuit charging them with sending unauthorized text messages to mobile phone users.

Timberland has agreed to reimburse Americans who received unauthorized text messages advertising its products in one of the first nationwide settlements of its kind, according to a law firm involved in the case.

Timberland, the boots and clothing company, and another company, e-commerce provider GSI, were the subject of a class-action lawsuit that charged them with sending text messages to customers in violation of the U.S. Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Under the terms of a preliminary settlement agreement, the companies will pay US$7 million into a cash fund to reimburse those who received the messages, according to KamberEdelson LLC, one of the law firms that helped bring the suit.

Timberland and GSI deny that they've done anything wrong and blamed a third-party company that they say was supposed to secure consent from the people who received the messages, KamberEdelson said.

A spokesperson for Timberland did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

People who received the text messages can visit a Web site to find out more about the settlement and apply for a $150 reimbursement.

While spam text messages don't occur at nearly the volume of spam e-mails, they are thought to be more invasive in part because some mobile users pay each time they receive a text message. Some mobile operators, including Verizon, have sued companies in an effort to stop them sending unsolicited texts to customers.

To get the cash payout, mobile users must fill out a claim form by Feb. 2, 2009. The form asks how many text messages from Timberland the phone user received each month between Jan. 1, 2003, and Aug. 1, 2008.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois must approve the settlement agreement during a hearing scheduled for Dec. 18.

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