Charging that Gold River, Calif.-based InsWeb Corp. engaged in "inappropriate and deceptive conduct," eHealthInsurance Services Inc. filed a lawsuit on Feb. 20 in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, in San Jose, and terminated an Internet linking agreement between the two companies.The lawsuit contends that InsWeb was sending "a considerable number of illegitimate referrals" to a co-branded Web site that was built and maintained by eHealthInsurance, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Those referrals were generated by a mass e-mail advertisement from an InsWeb partner, LifeMinders, entitled "Super Bowl Cheerleaders-Check 'em Out," according to a letter from eHealthInsurance General Counsel Bruce Telkamp that was sent on Feb. 14 to L. Eric Lowe, senior vice president and general counsel for InsWeb.

Recipients of the e-mail "were enticed to find pictures of the 'NFL's Hottest cheerleaders' by randomly selecting one of three football helmets," Telkamp's letter states. "Those who did not 'find' the helmet linking them to a Web site featuring cheerleaders were instead linked to the co-branded site," he adds.

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