Utility software vendor Symantec has announced it is acquiring antispam vendor Brightmail.

Symantec says the deal will complement its existing gateway security products in the fight against unsolicited commercial email.

The deal is expected to close by early July, according to Symantec.

"Spam has increasingly become one of the most severe threats to individuals and enterprises today, topping viruses as the number one problem plaguing email systems and administrators," said John W. Thompson, Symantec's chairman and CEO.

"Brightmail is the leader in helping enterprises, service providers and wireless carriers mitigate this threat."

Symantec had already made an investment in Brightmail in 2000 and now holds an approximately 11 percent equity stake in the company.

Products from both companies have been recognised for their security technology.

Enrique Salem, Brightmail's president and CEO, says in a statement that "by joining forces with Symantec, we can provide our combined base of customers around the world with the broadest messaging security solution in the industry."

Brightmail Antivirus already combines Symantec's award-winning antivirus technology with Brightmail's own offerings, according to the companies.

Brightmail customers include Avaya, eBay, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and Lucent Technologies. They license some of Brightmail's filtering technologies for use in their products or services.