LEGAL

Oracle Insider-Trading Settlement Rejected

Oracle founder and chief executive Lawrence J. Ellison's agreement to pay $100 million to charities to settle a shareholder lawsuit was rejected by a California judge who said the company shouldn't have to pay plaintiffs' attorney fees.

Oracle would have paid shareholders' lawyers about $24 million in fees.

"It's a very good settlement, but I don't see the corporation paying for it," Judge John G. Schwartz said.

"What I argue with is the corporation or the shareholders paying $25 million or $24 million or $1 million," he said.

The suit claimed that Ellison, right, improperly sold $900 million worth of Oracle stock in 2001, days before the company reported that earnings had missed forecasts, sending share prices down.

INTERNET

Google to Pull Index Boast From Home Page

Google will stop boasting on its home page about the number of Web pages it has stored in its index, even as the online search engine leader continues a crusade to prove that it scans substantially more material than its rivals.

As of Monday afternoon, Google's home page said the search index contained 8.17 billion pages.

That figure qualified it as the largest in the industry until last month, when rival Yahoo claimed its database included 20.8 billion documents and images.

Google also said it will offer an Internet "streamcast" of last week's television premiere of Chris Rock's new comedy, "Everybody Hates Chris."

Microsoft to Enable Ad Targeting

Microsoft, owner of the No. 3 Internet search engine -- after Google and Yahoo -- is upgrading its software to let advertisers target ads to specific audiences by age and location. Google offers a similar service.

The new AdCenter product, released in Singapore and France, is set for testing in the United States next month. AdCenter will include features to help advertisers stay within budget by estimating how many people will click on spots and the monthly cost for search terms.

It also will suggest search terms to advertisers and provide them with a profile of the Web surfers who clicked on their ads.

Ask Jeeves to Drop Butler Mascot

Ask Jeeves, an Internet search engine owned by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp, plans to drop its butler mascot, left, and shorten the search site's name to Ask or Ask.com. Jeeves, the slightly chubby and balding butler, isn't the kind of image that Internet conglomerate IAC wants representing the search engine, Diller said.

CELL PHONES

Nokia Boosts Handsets' Music Features

Nokia said that it sold 10 million cell phones with music players in 2004 and that it expects sales to exceed 40 million this year.

The Finnish cell phone maker is increasingly adding music features to its handsets, such as the just-released Nokia 3250, which has an integrated digital music player and a feature that transforms the traditional phone keypad into dedicated music keys.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.