Chinese Web site accused by M Resort

M Resort is suing the operators of a Chinese Web site for trademark infringement and cybersquatting. The federal lawsuit also accuses the China-based site of selling adult content and displaying “provocative” images of women.

M Holdings LLC filed the complaint Tuesday against Chinese resident Hu Mei Li. The complaint also alleges common law trademark infringement, unfair competition, deceptive trade practices and intentional interference with perspective economic advantage. M Resort’s operators are seeking a preliminary injunction against Li’s site, and unspecified damages.

The Chinese site provided access to competing reservation services and used provocative pictures of women to attract traffic, according to the complaint. The images attached to the court filing show women in string bikinis in suggestive poses, accompanied by text saying “Slip into something more suitable” and “adult personals.”

The Chinese site has been using the domain name since September of this year, but M Resort has a trademark “federal priority date of Oct. 1, 2007,” the complaint states.

New report says LV has top foreclosure rate

Las Vegas had the highest U.S. foreclosure rate in the third quarter, followed by cities in California and Florida, as unemployment left more borrowers unable to make their mortgage payments, RealtyTrac Inc. said Wednesday.

The largest increases in home loan defaults came in metropolitan areas where foreclosures hadn’t been a “focal point” previously, the Irvine, Calif.-based seller of default data said.

The pace of prime and alt-A loan defaults is accelerating as subprime defaults slow, Standard & Poor’s said in an Oct. 13 report. More than $400 billion in U.S. home mortgages that were packaged into securities and sold by companies other than government-supported Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in default and may be foreclosed on, S&P said. Those defaults may depress home prices for years, the analysts said.

The sharpest increases in foreclosure activity among the 50 metropolitan areas with the highest rates were in Boise City, Idaho; Salt Lake City and Provo-Orem, Utah, RealtyTrac said. Foreclosure filings more than doubled in all three areas.

New “hot spots” developed in Chico, Calif., where the foreclosure rate almost doubled, and Reno where the rate rose 80 percent from a year earlier, RealtyTrac said.

Sears launching Black Friday effort

Black Friday will arrive before Halloween this year, as the recession upends the retail calendar.

Sears announced Wednesday that it is launching a sales campaign called Black Friday Now that will feature weekly big discounts through Thanksgiving. The sale, which will begin Friday at 5 p.m., includes $80 diamond earrings and 50 percent off a 302-piece Craftsman tool set.

Retailers have been champing at the bit to go after Christmas sales this year. Price warfare has already erupted for sales of books and toys. Wal-Mart began slashing prices on holiday staples and gifts last week, discounting a popular skateboard/snowboard called the RipStick by 27 percent, to $49. Toys R Us unveiled its plan to open 80 temporary stores across the country back in September.

“They’re definitely thinking about the holidays sooner rather than later this year,” Sears spokeswoman Natalie Norris-Howser said of the chain’s shoppers.

Black Friday refers to the shopping bonanza that occurs the day after Thanksgiving, when stores typically offer dramatic discounts to start the holiday season.


Verizon’s challenger to iPhone nears debut

Verizon Wireless’ answer to the iPhone — the Droid — will go on sale for $200 next week as the company taps into the growing appetite for smart phones that go far beyond making calls.

The Droid could help Verizon retain its status as the nation’s largest wireless carrier and contribute to a turnaround of its manufacturer, Motorola Inc., which hasn’t produced a hit since the wildly popular Razr phone in 2005.

The new device also could give a boost to Google Inc., which used the Droid to unveil new mapping software that could challenge standalone navigational devices, sending GPS gadget maker Garmin Ltd.’s stock plunging after Wednesday’s announcement.


Ex-client of UBS avoids prison for tax charge

A wealthy accountant who provided extensive help in the tax evasion investigation of Swiss bank UBS AG was sentenced to a year of house arrest Wednesday after admitting he concealed about $6 million in assets from the IRS.

Steven Michael Rubinstein, 55, was the first U.S. citizen charged in the probe. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said his prosecution sent a message around the globe about the risks of hiding assets in offshore accounts — and that he deserved credit for helping U.S. investigators find more tax cheats and crooked bankers within UBS and other institutions in Switzerland and elsewhere.

Rubinstein will be on probation for three years, including the year of house arrest with electronic monitoring and travel restrictions. He also must pay a $40000 fine.


Yahoo tells investors troubles nearly over

With its stock in a three-year funk, Yahoo Inc. set out Wednesday to persuade investors that the Internet company’s struggles are nearly over.

“We have fallen and we really want to get back up,” Yahoo Chief Executive Carol Bartz said as she kicked off an all-day meeting with financial analysts. “We really want to get back on our tippy toes.”

Bartz vowed to make the company more profitable, and said she hoped Wednesday’s session would win back some of the respect lost from previous unfulfilled promises.

Yahoo pledged to boost its operating profit margin to a range of 15 percent to 20 percent by 2012, up from just 6 percent this year.


Dunkin’ Donuts exec settles with Starbucks

Competition between Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts has gone beyond mochas and lattes to high-level executives.

Paul Twohig of Hilton Head, S.C., a former Starbucks Coffee U.S. senior vice president who jumped ship to work for Dunkin’ Donuts, has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit that accused him of violating a noncompete agreement, according a statement issued late Tuesday by Stacey Krum, a spokeswoman for Starbucks.

Twohig also promised not to share Starbucks Corp. trade secrets or other confidential information with Dunkin’ Donuts, a division of Dunkin’ Brands Inc. of Canton, Mass., or to start work before Jan. 15, Krum wrote.

Starbucks shares fell 35 cents, or 1.83 percent, Wednesday to close at $18.74 on the Nasdaq National Market.

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