A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by AOL against a group of Florida computer technicians that the leading Internet provider charged with helping deliver spam e-mails, lawyers for the technicians said on Tuesday.

Judge Claude Hilton of the U.S. District Court in eastern Virginia dismissed the lawsuit Dec. 24, Albo & Oblon, the firm representing the defendants, said in a statement.

Hilton ruled that Virginia courts did not have jurisdiction over the Florida-based defendants, even though AOL, a unit of Time Warner, does business in Virginia and the unwanted e-mails were directed there, lawyers for the alleged spammers said.

But AOL said the ruling left open the prospect that it could either resubmit its lawsuit--first filed in April--with additional information in Virginia or file suit in Florida if necessary.

The company, which has been an enthusiastic proponent of federal laws and industry efforts designed to curb the flow of spam, said it would press ahead with its legal fight over unsolicited e-mail.

"The court's decision is based on a mere technicality. The legal issue that was decided by the court was how much detail needs to be included in a complaint essentially in order to get the legal ball rolling," said AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham.

"AOL intends to take all steps necessary to hold these defendants responsible for their actions and is prepared to amend its complaint in Virginia to include additional detail showing these defendants are subject to suit in Virginia."

Graham added: "This case is ongoing, and the company intends to continue to vigorously pursue all persons it has alleged conspired to send spam to AOL members."


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