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Tresspass to Chattles

           The definition of the trespass to chattels is “intermeddling with a chattel in possession of another which results in (a) dispossession of the chattel, (b) deprivation of the use of the chattel for a long period of time, (c) impairment of the condition, quality, usefulness of the chattel or (d) harm to the person of the possessor or persons or things in which he has a legally protected interest.” ("Trespass to Chattels")

           Traditionally trespass to chattels has been referred to as a tort that involves tangibles, however due to the major growth of the internet since the early 1990s, this tort has been expanded further into cyberspace. The reason for this is to help protect internet users from some of the major problems due to the growth of the internet including spam emails, spider and bots, and spyware. An example of one of the first cases that extended trespass to chattels into cyberspace was CompuServe, Inc. v Cyber Promotions, Inc. In this case the defendant, Cyber Promotions, business was to send unsolicited email advertisements to as many users on the internet as possible. It turns out that most of the users they do send their emails to happen to be subscribers of CompuServe, the plaintiff, because Cyber Promotions was using CompuServe’s computer system.

           Obviously the plaintiff did not like this because the defendant’s emails were making their subscribers angry as well as slowing down their system due to the mass amount of unsolicited email they were sending. The plaintiff warned the defendant many times to stop emailing their clients, however after the defendants kept emailing their users, the plaintiff decided to sustain an action for trespass to chattels. The plaintiff claimed that they suffered injuries other than just the physical injury of the defendant’s emails on their system including loss of subscribers. In conclusion, the court decided that the preliminary injunction that the plaintiff requested was appropriate due to the plaintiff’s ability to show that the defendants’ trespass into their computer system harmed their business reputation and goodwill. (Graham)