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Microsoft sues German firm over spam

Case alleges German company rented out space on servers that could deliver 74 million junk messages a month.

Microsoft has launched a case against a German man believed to be the linchpin of a spam gang.

The software maker's legal complaint was lodged against an unnamed company in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany and its managing director, according to a statement (in German) on the Microsoft Germany Web site. Microsoft alleges that the company sent out millions of spam e-mail messages advertising Web site design services, online casinos and pornography.

According to the complaint, the company is part of a wider spam group operating out of Ukraine and the United States. The managing director apparently spent long stretches of time in the United States, Microsoft said, where he built up a network of contacts. The man has allegedly been running spam-for-sale sites and a business renting servers, labeled "bulk mailers," to spam companies. For just $625 per month, a customer could buy enough server space to send 74 million e-mails a month, Microsoft said.

The managing director, however, said that unnamed business partners were behind the scheme, according to Microsoft's statement.

Microsoft has sued the man under Germany's competition laws, as the country has no laws prohibiting spamming.

A Microsoft representative declined to comment on the case, saying the software giant would not comment on ongoing legislation.

Jo Best of reported from London.'s Sylvia Carr contributed to this report.