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July 7, 2012 at 12:57 PM
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Facebook, Yahoo! settled patent suits

SAN FRANCISCO, July 7 (UPI) -- Two Silicon Valley giants, Yahoo! Inc., and Facebook said they had turned a patent duel into a business deal, settling their differences out of court.

Yahoo! filed first, accusing Facebook of abusing 10 patents.

Facebook counter-sued and was rumored to be preparing to go the distance in a court battle, The New York Times reported.

Many said former Yahoo! Chief Executive Officer Scott Thompson was simply trolling for cash with Yahoo!'s lawsuit, which was strategically filed two months before Facebook was to go public as a company.

Thompson, however, left Yahoo! when shareholders pressed the company about an error in his credentials -- a college degree that he did not have -- that appeared, among other places, on his company biography.

His replacement, interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, began to negotiate a settlement soon after taking charge of Yahoo!, the Times reported.

The case is an example of what has become one of the new frontiers of technology: Patent lawsuits.

The courtroom is so cutting edge for the industry that Yahoo! purchased a company, Overture, that was suing Google over patent violations and won, not just the company's business, but 2.7 million Google shares, when Overture and Google settled their case.

Facebook and Yahoo! said in a joint statement that they had agreed to "work together to bring consumers and advertisers premium media experiences promoted and distributed across both Yahoo! and Facebook."

The two adversaries "will also work together to bring Yahoo!'s large media event coverage to Facebook users by collaborating on social integrations on the Yahoo! site," the statement said.

Kraft to stop using gestational crates

NORTHFIELD, Ill., July 7 (UPI) -- U.S. food giant Kraft said packaged meat subsidiary Oscar Mayer will phase out gestational crates for sows within the next 10 years.

"We are committed to finding better ways to keep animals healthy and in a safe environment while treating them with respect," Oscar Mayer spokeswoman Sydney Lindner said in a statement.

"This is not only important to us, but also to our consumers who care about animal well-being and comfort," Lindner said.

The move puts Oscar Mayer on the same path as McDonald's, Wendy's, Hormell and Smithfield, among others, that have agreed to stop using gestational crates, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.

The crates prevent fights among pregnant sows. However, they are so confining that animal-rights activists consider them to be cruel to the sows, which spend much of their lives pregnant, the newspaper said.

"Although the company is allowing for a lengthy phase-in of this policy, we're glad Kraft and Oscar Mayer are on the path to reform and are working to improve conditions for pigs," said Paul Shapiro, director of the factory farming campaign at the Humane Society.

Bank in Georgia goes under

WASHINGTON, July 7 (UPI) -- Federal regulators said Ameris Bank of Moultrie, Ga., would buy the deposits and some of the assets of Montgomery Bank & Trust, which failed this week.

The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance closed the Montgomery bank, the 32nd bank closure in the country this year.

The failed bank had about $173.6 million in total assets. Ameris is set to buy $12.4 million of those, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday.

Ameris will assume all of the failed bank's deposits – valued at $164.4 million as of the end of March, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The closure will cost the FDIC about $75.2 million, the federal agency said.

Centrica complains about British process

LONDON, July 7 (UPI) -- British energy giant Centrica said the government needed a smoother process for approval of alternative energy projects to reach its own policy goals.

"It is essential that the UK maintains an efficient planning process without undue constraints on development if stretching renewable energy targets are to be met," the company said after the government approved one of two wind farm projects Centrica had proposed.

The government has set a target of $170 billion in investments in alternative energy to be spent over the next 10 years, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

On the other hand, the same government rejected one of Centrica's projects, a 540 megawatt wind farm project called Docking Shoal that was estimated would kill 76 Sandwich terns a year, the newspaper said.

Farther away from the birds' nesting grounds, the recently approved 580 megawatt Centrica wind farm called Race Bank and other wind farms in the area are expected to kill 94 terns a year.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the 94 bird deaths a year was "acceptable."

But Centrica complained that it had "already incurred considerable costs" on the Docking Shoal proposal and had waited "more than three and a half years" for government approval.

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