Microsoft Corp. has settled a lawsuit against Scott Richter, whom it identified as a former "spam king," as part of its ongoing efforts to curb the spread of unsolicited e-mail messages, the world's largest software maker said Tuesday.

Microsoft said that as part of the settlement Richter and his company, OptInRealBig.com Llc., agreed to pay $7 million to Microsoft.

Microsoft and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer had sued Richter in late 2003, asserting that he had sent, or helped other spammers send, billions of e-mail messages to consumers touting everything from herbal products to loan consolidation schemes. Richter and his company also violated state and federal laws, they said.

"The goal remains for us to separate spammers from their money," Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith told Reuters, "This is simply not going to be a profitable activity for people who engage in it."

Richter, who was not immediately available for comment, said in the joint statement with Microsoft that he denied Microsoft's allegations.

Nevertheless, Richter said that he and his company had changed their e-mailing practices and pledged not to send spam to anyone who has not asked to be sent commercial e-mail.

Additionally, as part of the settlement, Richter agreed to drop bankruptcy proceedings filed in March in the U.S. bankruptcy court in Denver, according to a joint statement by Microsoft and Richter. The settlement is conditioned on dismissal of the bankruptcy cases.

Smith said that Microsoft will reinvest all of the money, after legal expenses, including $5 million that will go to increase Internet enforcement efforts and expand technical and investigative support to help law enforcers to address computer-related crimes.

Microsoft said it has brought 135 cases against spammers in the last two years, including more than 100 in the United States.

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