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Business Briefing

COURTS

Broadcom prevails in patent fight

A federal appeals court in Washington sided with Irvine-based Broadcom Corp., ruling that the SiRF microchip used in some navigation devices violated Broadcom patents.

The decision upheld an infringement finding and import ban issued last year by the U.S. International Trade Commission that barred SiRF and devices containing SiRF chips made by Pharos Science & Applications Inc., Mitac International Corp.'s Mio Technology and E-TEN Corp. from entering the country

The dispute began as Global Locate, a GPS-chip maker owned by Broadcom, and SiRF vied to provide semiconductors to GPS makers including Garmin and TomTom. Each accused the other of infringing patents and filed ITC complaints.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected SiRF’s arguments that Global Locate didn’t have the right to assert one patent and that two others in the case were invalid.

WORKPLACE

New emphasis on productivity

Companies have increased workloads and put a higher priority on productivity since the recession began, according to a MetLife Inc. study.

Forty percent of employees said their workload had increased in the past year. Among employers, 36% said productivity improved, while 84% described it as a very important objective -- the highest percentage in the survey’s eight years.

But only 18% of companies with more than 1,000 employees reduced benefits from late 2008 to late 2009, while 19% reduced or suspended 401(k) matches. A total of 42% of employees said they were highly satisfied with their benefits.

Employees’ overall concerns about financial security have subsided to pre-recession levels or below, but 68% said they were affected in the last 12 months by increased feelings of job insecurity, a decrease in the quality of their work or being distracted at work because of financial worries.

ACQUISITIONS

ConocoPhillips sell-off continues

ConocoPhillips said it would sell its interest in Canadian oil sands producer Syncrude to a Chinese petroleum company for $4.65 billion.

The deal is part of ConocoPhillips’ plans to sell about $10 billion in assets by 2011, and continues a trend of Chinese companies buying international energy properties to feed a growing need for fuel at home.

The Houston oil company said subsidiaries of Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Co. have agreed to buy its 9.03% stake in Syncrude.

ConocoPhillips said the Syncrude deal should close in the third quarter pending approval by the Chinese and Canadian governments.

RETAIL

Digital book sales to grow

U.S. book sales will rise 5.8% through 2015 as more people buy digital versions for Apple Inc.'s iPad and Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle, even as traditional book sales drop, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said.

Industrywide sales will increase to $24.9 billion in 2015 from $23.5 billion this year, Goldman Sachs analyst James Mitchell said in a report today.

E-book sales will jump more than four-fold in the period to $3.19 billion while print book sales probably will fall 4.9% to $21.7 billion, he said.

Apple’s share of the e-book market will surge from 10% this year to 33% in 2015, said Mitchell, who wrote the report along with analysts Ingrid Chung, Fred Krom and Jordan Monahan.

Amazon.com’s share of the e-book market likely will fall to 28% in 2015 from 50% this year, and Barnes & Noble Inc.'s share will remain at 15% from 2012 through 2015 after rising from 5% this year.

THE ECONOMY

Another month in deficit for U.S.

The U.S. posted a budget deficit for a record 18th straight month in March, according to the Treasury Department.

The excess of spending over revenue declined to $65.4 billion last month, compared with a shortfall of $191.6 billion in March 2009. The year-over-year narrowing reflected a decline in outlays for the Troubled Asset Relief Program to shore up financial firms.

Revenue and other income climbed 19% to $153.4 billion in March from $128.9 billion the same month last year. Total government spending for March dropped 32% to $218.7 billion.

-- times wire reports


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