April 02, 2014

A federal court ruled this week that purchasers of Norton antivirus software who bought a re-downloading service can proceed on a class action case against technology security provider Symantec and its e-commerce vendor, Digital River, Inc.

The plaintiffs allege that Digital River and Symantec duped customers into buying “Extended Download Service” and later “Norton Download Insurance”– re-downloading services the companies would automatically include in the customer’s shopping cart when they bought a Norton security product. Plaintiffs also allege that the companies deliberately hid from customers material information, including that the customers could re-download their Norton purchase for free at any time during their subscription.

“Millions of consumers purchased these re-downloading services unaware that there were numerous free alternatives offered by Defendants and that Defendants themselves questioned the value of the download insurance,” said plaintiffs’ lead counsel Andrew N. Friedman, of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

In certifying the case as a class action on March 31, Judge John Tunheim, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, found Symantec and Digital River had uniform policies of withholding information about free alternatives, while including descriptors of the re-downloading services that suggested to customers that they could only re-download their product after 60 days if they had bought the Extended Download Service/Norton Download Insurance at the time they bought their software. The Court certified the case as a national class action, applying the consumer protection laws from Minnesota and California–the state law specified in Digital River’s and Symantec’s respective terms of use.

“The Court rejected Symantec and Digital River’s arguments to apply the laws of each state in which the millions of purchasers of these superfluous re-downloading services resided,” Friedman added. “In doing so, the Court effectively prevented defendants from picking and choosing when they can enforce the terms they require consumers to accept.”

Plaintiffs allege millions of customers purchased the service, which costs around $5.99 and $10.99. Without a class action suit, individual plaintiffs could not likely afford to bring a lawsuit that could bring to an end wrongful business practices such as those alleged.

In addition to Andrew Friedman, Cohen Milstein attorneys representing the plaintiffs in Khoday et al v. Symantec Corp. et al, are Douglas J. McNamara and Mary J. Bortscheller.