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Scott Richter, the object of ire for everyone who’s ever had an e-mail account, submitted something the other day, and it wasn’t spam. Richter, the self-styled “spam king” renowned for his legal battles with New York state and Microsoft Corp., filed for Chapter 11 protection Friday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado in Denver, along with his Westminster, Colo., company, OptInRealBig.com LLC. In December 2003, Microsoft and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued OptinRealBig.com for violating Washington state and New York anti-spam laws. The company lists the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant as its biggest creditor, with a $20 million claim. Overall, OptIn reported $1 million to $10 million in assets in its petition and between $50 million and $100 million in debts. Among the top 20 creditors are the company’s insurance firm, American Family Mutual Insurance Co. OptIn is feuding with the insurer over liability coverage and legal defense costs. Richter and Spitzer settled their complaint, with OptIn paying a $50,000 fine. The Empire State had charged the company with sending junk e-mail, commonly called spam, that contained falsified headers and routing information, not to mention deceptive subject lines. New York also accused OptIn of routing millions of e-mails through about 500 “compromised computers” to hide the true e-mail sources. The computers belonged to a diverse group ranging from New York-based Internet service provider IntelliSpace Inc., Russia’s Singer Computer, South Korea’s Seoul Municipal Boramae Hospital and even the Kuwaiti Ministry of Finance, New York state’s Consumer Protection Board said. OptIn promised in the settlement with New York to end deceptive practices. The company does operate a Web site, presumably where people can complain or try to get removed from e-mail lists. But visitors must brace for an extremely loud message when they hit links. Shortly after the settlement, Richter started his own line of clothing, the SpamKing line, which he marketed on online stores under the SK brand. Richter, who has appeared on television and on the covers of business periodicals, targeted his line of lingerie, hats and shirts to the grunge-and-skateboard crowd. In a Monday statement, Richter’s 15-employee company said it would remain in business while resolving litigation, including the Microsoft matter, through the bankruptcy court. “We expect to prevail in all the pending lawsuits,” the company said. “However, the litigation has been a relentless distraction with which to contend.” In its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, Microsoft alleges that OptIn engaged in deceptive e-mail campaigns related to its Hotmail accounts in violation of Washington State anti-spam laws. The Chapter 11 filing essentially moves the venue of this lawsuit to the Denver bankruptcy court. Scott Richter’s father, San Diego attorney Steven Richter, is mentioned in published accounts as his attorney. However, the Chapter 11 filing lists John C. Smiley of Lindquist & Vennum as debtor counsel. Smiley could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Heidi M. Eckel of Bullivant Houser Bailey in Seattle is another attorney listed in court documents as representing Richter. Copyright �2005 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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