Pfizer filed civil actions against two Web sites allegedly promoting and selling products that are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Microsoft filed suit against spammers who advertise online pharmacies. The parallel suits are the result of a seven-month investigation by the two companies that uncovered a highly sophisticated spam ring with several groups of affiliates, all advertising Web sites associated with CanadianPharmacy. (CanadianPharmacy's Web site, www.cndpharmacy.com, no longer exists.) According to the complaints, investigators found that consumers' online orders are received on computers in New York, sent to a call center in Canada, forwarded to India for processing and shipped back to the United States for delivery.
Source: Andrews Computer and Internet Litigation Reporter
This is a fascinating intersection of corporate self-interest and the "good of the people."
Pfizer has two objectives: to keep others from selling infringing versions of its patented drug, and to protect its profits and its business goodwill by preventing the passing-off of counterfeits that sully its "good" trade name by being inferior and/or less expensive. Microsoft's objective seems to be keeping people on the Internet e-mail bandwagon so that it can keep that cash cow going. But these suits not only profess to be in the public interest: they actually may prevent spam (which may not be one of the chief evils of the world, but certainly is distracting and invconvenient).
I have less cynicism than most people I know about the degree to which the public is served by an effective intellectual property enforcement system, but I must admit that even I was surprised to see the interests of Pfizer, Microsoft, and the general public aligning in this instance. I'm not sure what that says about our system, but I look forward to hearing more about the progress of these suits.