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CONSUMER PROTECTION Agreement reached with card issuers for $336M NEW YORK (AP)-Two plaintiffs’ firms, Philadelphia-based Berger & Montague and San Diego-based Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins have announced that they have reached a $336 million agreement with Visa USA Inc., MasterCard Inc. and Diners Club, the card issuer owned by Citigroup Inc., over charges for foreign currency conversions. The class action claimed that the companies overcharged when converting foreign transactions into dollars and didn’t disclose all fees. A New York federal court must still approve the settlement. COPYRIGHTS Software maker settles piracy suits for $115M WASHINGTON (AP)-Sharman Networks Ltd., producer and distributor of the software “Kazaa,” which enabled computer users to download music and movies via the Internet, has agreed to pay more than $115 million to the entertainment industry to settle global piracy lawsuits. The settlement concludes legal battles against Sharman Networks around the world. Sharman Networks has boasted that its Kazaa software was downloaded more than 389 million times. PATENTS Cellphone billing service dispute settles for $87M BOSTON (AP)-Boston Communications Group Inc., a provider of cellular phone billing services, has reached an $87 million settlement of a patent infringement case. Last year, a Massachusetts federal jury ordered Boston Communications to pay $128 million to Phoenix-based Freedom Wireless Inc., which had sued over patents. Under the settlement Boston Communications will pay $12.6 million in royalties to license technology used for prepaid cellular phone billing plans. The $12.6 million is part of BCGI’s total $55.3 million obligation to settle all outstanding claims from Freedom Wireless. The technology allows customers making prepaid calls to avoid dialing identification codes or calling toll-free numbers. The remaining $32 million is due from the co-defendants-cellular carriers that received billing services from Boston Communications, including Cingular Wireless, AT&T Wireless Services Inc., CMT Partners and Western Wireless. PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY Building designers settle suit over flawed design BOSTON (AP)-The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, which oversees the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, has approved an out-of-court settlement requiring the two-year-old building’s designers to pay $22 million to cover the costs of alleged design flaws. The settlement resolves a lawsuit that the authority filed in September 2004, three months after the $850 million building’s opening, against some of the designers. The settlement with the three firms covers repairs made as a result of alleged design errors and omissions that caused costly repairs. The design errors involved the roof-drainage system, ventilation and roadway expansion joints and drains. The designers that reached the settlement were Kansas City, Mo.-based HNTB Corp., the lead design contractor; and affiliates Rafael Vinoly Architects P.C. and R.G. Vanderweil Engineers. QUI TAM GE pays $11.5M to settle defective parts suit LOUISVILLE, KY. (AP)-General Electric Co. has agreed to pay $11.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by GE employees who alleged that the company sold defective turbine engine parts, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Louisville. The suit was filed by seven GE employees who alleged that GE covered up defects in turbine blades and vanes during production. Under the settlement, the employees will receive about 20% of the amount, or $2.35 million, with the remaining balance going to the government. The blade and vane parts are metal air foils that force air through a jet engine. The employees filed the suit under the U.S. False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the federal government. SHAREHOLDER SUIT Banks pay $99M, settle Global Crossing suits NEW YORK (AP)-Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and about 25 other investment banks are to pay $99 million to settle shareholder litigation surrounding the collapse of former telecom giant Global Crossing Ltd. Goldman agreed to pay $42.1 million and Merrill $19.2 million under the deal, which received preliminary approval in a New York federal court. Other contributions to the deal include $17.4 million from two units of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, $3.8 million from JP Morgan Chase & Co. and $2.9 million from Morgan Stanley Inc. The suits included allegations of deceptive accounting and fraudulent deals to pump up revenues as the company and other backbone operators traded unused capacity on their networks. Investors also accused the investment banks of aggressively selling Global Crossing securities at inflated prices. Global Crossing filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2002 with debts of $11 billion.

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