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Reilly seeks tougher Microsoft curbs

Antitrust penalties imposed on Microsoft Corp. in 2002 for abusing its dominance of the US computer operating system business have done little to spur competition in the software industry, Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said in a court filing. US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who is overseeing the case, has shown little inclination to tighten the restrictions on Microsoft. In January, she said that all but one aspect of the accord was working. Of the 19 states that sued Microsoft in 1998, Massachusetts is the only one still challenging the settlement. The state is awaiting a decision from a federal appeals court on its appeal of Kollar-Kotelly's refusal to order more remedies. (Bloomberg)

State Street trims fees on S&P fund

State Street Corp. voluntarily reduced fees on its Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipts Trust Series 1 for one year to attract more investors. A company spokesman said the decision to lower the exchange-traded fund's cap costs won't hurt earnings since State Street anticipates increased investments. State Street said it will cut cap costs to 10 basis points from 12 basis points, starting Monday. State Street introduced SPDR securities with the American Stock Exchange in 1993. It previously capped SPDR's costs to no more than 12 basis points in March 2000. (Dow Jones)

Foreman won't sit on Casual Male board

Boxer George Foreman won't take a seat on the Casual Male Retail Group Inc.'s board as the company had said last month. Casual Male said Foreman was spending so much time in marketing and promotional efforts for the company it would be difficult for him to maintain a role as an active board member. Foreman will continue as a board observer as well as a spokesman for several clothing lines that bear his name, the Canton company said. (Bloomberg)


Federated mulls buying Marshall Field's

Federated Department Stores Inc., the owner of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, said it may buy the Marshall Field's department store chain from Target Corp. Buying the 62-store chain would allow Federated to enter some states, including Wisconsin, Michigan, and South Dakota, at a time when department store and mall expansion has slowed. Marshall Field's may fetch as much as $2.9 billion, analysts said. Rising sales in the past two months at department stores including Federated's make an acquisition more likely, analysts have said. Federated last week raised its first-quarter profit forecast after sales rose a more-than-expected 6.8 percent. Target last month said it was considering selling Marshall Field's and Mervyn's, which had declining sales last year, to focus on its discount stores. (Bloomberg)

Google refining placement of ads

Google is giving online merchants and other websites more options for tailoring their advertisements to local audiences. Under a program set to begin today, a pet store in Boston, for instance, can specify that it wants to reach Google users in the Boston area only. Or a national company can have different ads run in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The new program affects the ads that run on the right side of search results, although Google is separately testing a local search service to customize the regular searches as well. Previously, businesses could specify only what country they wish to target, making the program prohibitively expensive for smaller merchants. Advertisers targeting the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands have the most options. They can specify cities or metropolitan areas they wish to target. (AP)

Bear Stearns unit pays $16.3m to settle

Bear Wagner Specialists LLC, the market making arm of investment bank Bear Stearns, will pay $16.3 million to settle charges of improper trading, Bear Stearns said in a regulatory filing. In March, five of the largest floor-trading firms at the New York Stock Exchange said they would pay a combined $241.8 million in order to settle allegations that they had inappropriately intervened in some customer trades over the course of four years. By settling with the NYSE and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the firms neither admitted nor denied the allegations. But in addition to paying penalties to regulators, they agreed to contribute part of their respective settlement amounts to a disgorgement fund set up to reimburse investors. The settlement resolved any impact on the five firms from the investigation by the SEC into floor trading practices, but additional charges are expected against some individual specialists. (Reuters)

Hackers break into research networks

Hackers have broken into some of the world's most powerful computer clusters in recent weeks in an apparently coordinated cyberattack targeting research and academic institutions. Although officials sought to play down the seriousness of the threats, some security specialists warned that such a break-in could potentially enable a serious attack on the Internet. Stanford University, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications were among the systems hit. Also affected was TeraGrid, a government-funded effort to link together several supercomputers, including those at San Diego and NCSA, so scientists can better crunch data for weather forecasting, astronomy, and medicine. "There's been some unauthorized access, but it's not that anything has been damaged or taken over," said Catherine Foster of Argonne National Laboratory, home to TeraGrid's coordinator. "This seems to be part of an effort (by hackers) to gain merit badges." (AP)

Lindows changes name to Linspire

Lindows Inc. changed the name of its Lindows OS operating system to Linspire, responding to a federal judge's refusal to halt Microsoft Inc.'s trademark infringement lawsuits outside the United States. Michael Robertson, founder and chief executive, said Lindows would remain the company's name and that the moniker may be used to sell products in the United States. But he said the company's flagship Linux operating system would be renamed Linspire worldwide and that it was shutting down its website, Visitors to the Lindows website were automatically redirected to Microsoft sued in 2001 in US District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleging the name infringed on its trademark for the Windows operating system. (AP)

. . .Etc.

Prosecutors have asked federal Judge David Hittner to explain why he refused to go along with a plea bargain that would have meant no more than five months in prison for the wife of former Enron Corp.'s finance chief Andrew Fastow. Lea Fastow withdrew her guilty plea to a tax crime last week and is set to go on trial June 2 on conspiracy and tax charges . . . Coca-Cola's departing general counsel Deval Patrick will stay with the company until year-end. Coke said Sunday that Patrick had decided to resign from the company after three years as its top attorney. In a memo to employees, chief executive Doug Daft said Patrick will concentrate on resolving the pending government investigations of the beverage giant . . . Federal officials have launched two unrelated investigations into Southern California hospitals owned by Tenet Healthcare, the company said. (Globe wire services)

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