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Business in brief

Nuance alleges Vlingo infringed on its patents

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June 17, 2008

THE REGION
Nuance Communications Inc., a Burlington maker of speech-recognition products, has sued the Cambridge start-up Vlingo Corp., alleging patent infringement. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Texas, seeks monetary damages and an order against any continued infringement. Vlingo, which develops speech-recognition technology for mobile phones, raised $20 million in April in a funding round led by Yahoo Inc. A spokesman would not say how much money Nuance's suit seeks. A Vlingo spokeswoman said only that the company is reviewing the lawsuit. (Carolyn Y. Johnson)

Bank: Loss of data affects 160,000 Bay Staters
Bank of New York Mellon said about 160,000 Massachusetts accounts were affected by one of two recent incidents in which its vendors lost track of data tapes. All told, more than 4 million accounts were potentially compromised. Since March, the bank has been notifying residents in Massachusetts and other states of the incidents and advising them of the services it is offering, including two years of free credit monitoring. In the first case, the bank learned Feb. 27 that backup data were missing from its shareholder services unit, including names, addresses, and Social Security numbers. In April, the bank said another tape was lost in transit with data on payment processes, including images of scanned checks from businesses and consumers. (Ross Kerber)

THE NATION
GE stock touches lowest level in more than 4 years
Shares of General Electric Co. briefly fell to their lowest point in more than four years when an analyst downgraded the shares and predicted a challenging environment for its business operations. The shares fell to $28.38 before rebounding to close at $28.97, down 18 cents. They reached their lowest mark since Nov. 17, 2003, when they traded at $27.67. The drop for the industrial conglomerate, which makes jet engines, locomotives, water treatment plants, and household appliances and owns NBC television, came as JPMorgan's C. Stephen Tusa Jr. cut GE to "neutral" from "overweight." A spokesman said GE does not comment on analyst notes. (AP)

Yahoo network unit chief resigns to work for 2 firms
Yahoo Inc., the Internet company fighting a proxy battle with billionaire investor Carl Icahn, lost executive Jeff Weiner to two venture capital firms. Weiner will become executive-in-residence at Accel Partners and Greylock Partners, according to the companies. At Yahoo, he oversaw the network division, including the home page, search engine, and communications products. Weiner is one of the most senior employees to leave since Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, in February disclosed its intention to buy Yahoo. Yahoo said last week that talks about a combination have ended and disclosed an advertising partnership with Google Inc. (Bloomberg)

FDA clears tomatoes from Baja California in Mexico
One part of Mexico, Baja California, has been cleared of suspicion in the outbreak of salmonella-tainted tomatoes, which US officials said has now sickened 277 people. That's 49 more than had been counted last week, reinforcing a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the outbreak isn't over. (AP)

FDA says antipsychotics raise death risk in elderly
Older antipsychotic drugs including Haldol and Thorazine were added to the list of those that increase the risk of death in the elderly when used to treat dementia, the Food and Drug Administration said. Makers of conventional antipsychotics must add the same strict warning about death risk to prescribing information that has been required since 2005 on newer, so-called atypical versions, according to a notice on the FDA's website. None of the drugs is approved for dementia, though doctors may prescribe them for any reason. (Bloomberg)

MySpace wins arbitration against alleged spammer
MySpace can collect $6 million from a notorious Internet marketer accused by the popular online hangout of spamming its users. An arbitrator has ruled that Scott Richter and his Web marketing company, Media Breakaway LLC, of Westminster, Colo., must pay MySpace $4.8 million in damages and $1.2 million in attorney's fees for barraging MySpace members with unsolicited advertisements. Media Breakaway and its employees were also banned from the site. MySpace, a unit of News Corp., had alleged that some of the messages were sent from accounts whose sign-on information had been hijacked by "phishing." Media Breakaway countered that rogue business affiliates - independent contractors who sent messages for Media Breakaway - were to blame. (AP)

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