Blue Mountain Says Virus Rumors Hurting Business

Blue Mountain Arts, the online greeting card company, says it’s the victim
of a virus hoax that could hurt its reputation with Internet users.

According to the Colorado-based firm, a message began circulating by e-mail
in late February saying Blue Mountain’s systems had been infiltrated by an
unnamed virus. The email warned recipients not to open any messages from
Blue Mountain or risk having their computers crash.

Last week, Blue Mountain posted a notice on the front door of its site
saying the warning is a hoax and that its computers are virus free. The company pointed out it’s technically impossible to get a virus from a
text-based email message.

Spokesperson Erica Wilhelm said the company has received thousands of
inquiries from customers who said they were afraid to use the site or read
Blue Mountain email greeting cards out of fear of catching a virus.

Blue Mountain operates the 12th most trafficked Internet site, according to
recent Media Metrix figures. Wilhelm said it’s too soon to determine
whether the hoax has hurt traffic at the ad banner-supported site.

“Our
main concern is that we could be losing customers who believe the hoax,”
she said.

So far, the company has no idea why it was targeted.

Blue Mountain has been involved in a lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. over the
junk email filter in the beta of Microsoft’s Outlook Express version 5.
Blue Mountain recently won a court injunction after a judge decided that
Microsoft’s product was erroneously treating all incoming Blue Mountain
mail as junk e-mail and dumping it in a trash folder.

Microsoft complied by pulling the Outlook Express beta, as well as the beta
2 for Internet Explorer version 5. The company also issued a press release last month criticizing Blue Mountain. The release quotes a Microsoft
attorney as saying, “the ruling does establish a dangerous precedent that
essentially substitutes the view of Blue Mountain Arts for that of the
customer in the marketplace.”

Wilhelm says Blue Mountain hasn’t received any complaints from Internet
users about its lawsuit against Microsoft.

“The only
feedback we’ve received has been positive comments from our customers who
want to see us continue to do well,” Wilhelm said.

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