The Supreme Court declined to review a dispute over whether Internet service providers can be forced to identify subscribers swapping music and movies online. Verizon Communications resisted subpoenas to disclose the names of subscribers and was upheld by an appeals court. The Supreme Court could decide to consider the issue in any of a number of cases with pending appeals.
Patent Holder Awarded $510 Million
A federal jury awarded $400 million in punitive damages to a surgeon who accused a medical technology company of infringing on his patents. The punitive damages against Medtronic are in addition to $110 million in compensatory damages the Fridley, Minn., company was ordered to pay Gary K. Michelson. The jury said a company subsidiary breached agreements with Michelson to produce and sell devices he invented to treat patients with damaged or diseased spinal disks. Medtronic said it will appeal.
The Supreme Court declined to hear three cases seeking to reinstate federal regulations that would force regional telephone carriers to share their networks with competitors at discounted rates. The court let stand a lower-court ruling that the Federal Communications Commission had failed to justify the need for the rules. The decision forces the FCC to come up with new rules, a process the agency began this summer.
The court also said it would decide whether Hawaii went too far to keep gasoline prices down when it restricted what oil companies could charge their dealer-owned stations and barred the companies from taking over those stations. Lower courts sided with Chevron USA, saying the 1997 law was an unconstitutional taking of property.
A New York Mercantile Exchange membership sold for a record $2 million. The price for the full Nymex membership has risen 21 percent since May 7, when a seat went for $1.65 million, the exchange said in a statement. A membership enables the owner to buy and sell contracts such as crude oil and natural gas on the trading floor.
Cendant, the largest U.S. travel and real estate services company, said it will spin off its mortgage and vehicle-fleet-management units to shareholders to focus on its main businesses, which include franchising Days Inn hotels and Century 21 real estate brokerages.
PayPal service interruptions continued for the fifth consecutive day. Since some people are able to log in while others are not, owner eBay said the number of affected users is unknown. The problems began Friday with an upgrade of the software that PayPal uses.
Intellectual property crimes are a growing threat that requires more federal prosecutors and FBI agents, a Justice Department task force said. The panel said prosecutors should be assigned to U.S. embassies in Hong Kong and Budapest to coordinate a crackdown in Asia and Eastern Europe against thefts of copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and patents.
DreamWorks Animation SKG said in an amended filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it plans to sell 25 million shares, while its shareholders intend to offer 4 million shares at an expected price of $23 to $25 each. It is the initial public offering of the company responsible for such animated films as "Shrek" and "Shark Tale."
Premcor, an oil refiner, will receive a loan of 700,000 barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to offset supplies lost when Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf of Mexico last month, the Energy Department said. The department has approved six oil loans totaling 5.4 million barrels; about 17 million barrels were lost because of Ivan, the government said.
PeopleSoft said it is extending a money-back guarantee designed to protect customers in event of a takeover by Oracle. In court, Oracle said the customer program adds a potential $2 billion liability to the $7.7 billion acquisition it has been pursuing. Oracle co-president Safra A. Catz testified that the potential cost of the program is one of the factors being considered in a possible revision of the value it places on PeopleSoft.
T-bill rates fell. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills was down to 1.680 percent from 1.685 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills fell to 1.955 percent from 1.990 percent. The actual return to investors is 1.711 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,957.53, and 2.002 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,901.16. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable rate mortgages, rose to 2.24 percent last week from 2.20 percent the previous week.
Starbucks said James L. Donald will succeed Orin C. Smith, who is retiring as chief executive and president on March 31. Donald joined the coffee company in 2002 as president for North America.
Pillowtex, the bankrupt textile giant, agreed to the sale of one of its North Carolina plants to a New York development firm. An auction for the property is expected to be held Dec. 10, the company said. Under the deal with Manchester Real Estate & Construction, Pillowtex will receive a convertible promissory note for $1.5 million.
Former WorldCom chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers will ask a court to order the company to pay his legal bills as he fights charges that he orchestrated an $11 billion accounting fraud. Ebbers has spent more than $2 million on lawyers.
Securities regulators barred former Prudential Securities broker Joseph T. Falcone from the industry for at least five years for trading on information he obtained from advance copies of Business Week. Falcone and other brokers were accused of paying a foreman at a magazine distribution facility $3,000 to fax them advance copies of Business Week's "Inside Wall Street" column in 1995 and 1996.
The Russian Justice Ministry filed to sell part of a production subsidiary of oil company Yukos to pay back taxes. Yukos, whose jailed former chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky irritated the Kremlin by funding opposition political parties, has been hit with tax claims of more than $7 billion.
The World Bank's chief economist said that high oil prices have depleted foreign exchange reserves by as much as one-third. "We have an impact of between 2 percent and 5 percent of GDP depending on the oil dependency and dependency on other sources of energy," Francois Bourguignon said.
NTL, Ireland's major cable TV company, is ending its domestic phone service after claiming that the Tellabs-supplied units that allow phone calls to be made down a cable line could be dangerous and denying any commercial motive for the decision. Regulators and politicians said NTL had informed them that the boxes could overheat and cause fires. Tellabs confirmed it was the manufacturer and rejected claims that the boxes it supplied NTL four years ago were dangerous.
Johnson & Johnson said third-quarter profit rose to $2.34 billion, from $2.07 billion in the third quarter of 2003. Sales were $11.55 billion, up from $10.46 billion.
Merrill Lynch profit fell in the third quarter to $920 million, from $1 billion in the comparable quarter last year. Revenue dropped 3 percent, to $4.8 billion.
Gannett said third-quarter earnings rose 11 percent, to $310.2 million from $279 million in the comparable period last year. Revenue at the McLean-based newspaper publisher also rose 11 percent, to $1.82 billion from $1.63 billion.
Cargill said its first-quarter profit rose 43 percent, to $495 million, on increased beef, fertilizer and steel sales. The private company based in Wayzata, Minn., did not provide sales figures.
Infosys Technologies, India's second-largest software exporter, reported a 49 percent increase in second-quarter profit, citing strong demand for its outsourcing services. Infosys earned $97 million during the quarter, compared with $65 million during the comparable period last year. Revenue was $379 million, up from $251 million.
State Street reported lower third-quarter profit, $177 million, compared with $202 million in the comparable quarter last year. The financial services firm said it will cut 425 jobs -- 2 percent of its workforce -- to save $50 million a year. It also said it will divest itself of its remaining high-net-worth investment management business, Bel Air Investment Advisors.
Levi Strauss reported a profit of $46.6 million in the three months ended Aug. 29, compared with a loss of $4.3 million in the comparable quarter last year. Sales totaled $994.6 million, down 8 percent.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.