Accused Spammer, Web Attorney Clash Again

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Only five months after settling a bitter, two-year legal battle, Internet law attorney Pete Wellborn and accused spammer Benchmark Print Supply are at it again.

This week, Wellborn and his client, Friendly Email Inc., won a temporary restraining order prohibiting Benchmark Print Supply, Atlanta, and its owner, Sam Khuri, from sending unsolicited commercial e-mail to Internet users. The order was issued by the U.S. District Court for Georgia's Northern District and will remain in place until a hearing on Oct. 11, according to a statement issued by Wellborn.

Friendly Email, a California e-mail service, alleges that Benchmark and Khuri sent out bulk unsolicited commercial e-mails that were doctored to look as if they were sent by Friendly Email. This practice is known as "spoofing" and is prohibited by state and federal laws. Wellborn said Friendly Email received 1,000 complaint e-mails over the two-day period when the alleged violations took place.

The lawsuit asks that Benchmark, a telesales firm for printer cartridges, be held liable for criminal penalties and civil damages.

The relationship between Wellborn, who works for Arnall Golden & Gregory LLP, Atlanta, is a long and contentious one. Wellborn represented British Internet service provider BiblioTech Ltd. in a two-year case that was settled last April. In that settlement, BiblioTech agreed to drop all charges against Benchmark, who in return agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to the ISP and abide by a set of prohibited-conduct guidelines regarding future e-mail marketing efforts.

"Benchmark has again crossed the line when it comes to respecting the rights of Internet users to privacy and a spam-free Internet," Wellborn said. "I don't like Benchmark Print Supply and I don't like Sam Khuri."

Wellborn added that he wouldn't rest until Benchmark and Khuri "pay for their transgressions against Internet users."

Benchmark Print Supply could not be reached for comment.

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