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Originally published May 9, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 9, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Business Digest

Long patent fight ends in victory for RealNetworks

RealNetworks won an appeals-court ruling that it didn't infringe a Massachusetts company's patents for downloading data...

Pacific Northwest

RealNetworks won an appeals-court ruling that it didn't infringe a Massachusetts company's patents for downloading data to personal computers.

The ruling Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., ends a more than seven-year battle fought by the Seattle company, owner of the Rhapsody online-music service.

The appeals court, without issuing an opinion, upheld a jury finding that RealNetworks didn't infringe two patents owned by closely held Ethos Technologies and that some of the elements of the patents were invalid.

"I'm thrilled. It's been a long fight with these guys," said Robert Kimball, general counsel for RealNetworks.

Lawyers representing Ethos didn't return a message seeking comment.

Janicki Energy

Wood-pellet mill for Skagit Valley

Janicki Energy announced plans to build a wood-pellet mill in Hamilton in the Skagit Valley, starting with seven full-time employees and providing up to 25 jobs later.

The plant will use raw waste materials such as sawdust, bark and logging slash, squeezing the wood debris through a "spaghetti-making" machine then chopping the strands into 1-inch lengths.

The new enterprise is an offshoot of two Sedro-Woolley-based family businesses: Janicki Logging & Construction, and Janicki Industries, which manufactures advanced composite molds for boat and airplane builders.

Janicki Energy said it has long-term contracts to sell the industrial-grade pellets, which are used in home heating and commercial power plants worldwide.

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Nation / World

Hewlett-Packard

Earnings forecast revised upward

Hewlett-Packard's turnaround efforts are paying off as the computer and printer maker said it is poised to bulldoze its earlier quarterly earnings targets and rake in an extra $1 billion in sales.

The raised outlook sent shares up 2.8 percent Tuesday and underscored HP's market gains against Dell and others.

Some analysts think HP, which has been working to streamline its businesses under the regime of CEO Mark Hurd, has yet to reach its peak.

HP is to report earnings May 18.

Its stock rose $1.21 to $45.01.

Walt Disney Co.

Net income rose 27% in quarter

Net income at The Walt Disney Co. increased 27 percent in the second quarter, boosted by strong results from its film studio, advertising sales at ESPN and international sales of its TV shows, including "Desperate Housewives."

The media conglomerate said Tuesday its net income for the quarter ended March 31 was $931 million, or 44 cents per share, compared with $733 million, or 37 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Revenue grew slightly to $8.07 billion from $8.03 billion in the same period last year.

The company's per-share earnings easily beat estimates of 38 cents per share from analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, although its revenue missed analyst expectations of $8.13 billion.

The company reported profit growth at all segments, including theme parks and consumer products.

Shares of Disney gained 49 cents to $36.55 on Tuesday.

Cisco Systems

Upgrades help boost profit 34%

Cisco Systems' third-quarter profit surged 34 percent as widespread networking upgrades continued to fuel the company's robust growth.

Net income for the three months ended April 28 was $1.87 billion, or 30 cents per share, compared with $1.4 billion during the same period last year.

Excluding one-time charges, San Jose-based Cisco earned 34 cents a share, a penny higher than analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting.

Cisco, the world's largest networking equipment maker, rang up $8.87 in billion in sales during the quarter, higher than the $8.76 billion analysts were anticipating.

Cisco shares advanced 55 cents on Tuesday to $28.36.

Thomson / Reuters

Reuters CEO would lead joint company

Canadian publisher Thomson said Tuesday that Reuters CEO Tom Glocer would lead the combined company if Thomson succeeds in its $17.5 billion bid for Reuters to create the world's biggest financial news and information provider.

A combined Thomson-Reuters — the name proposed by Thomson — would have a market capitalization of around $45 billion, or a third of the global market, leapfrogging current market leader Bloomberg in providing real-time data to traders and investment professionals.

The companies outlined details of the proposed deal Tuesday, revealing that several issues had already been agreed upon even while stressing that nothing is final and there was no certainty a deal would proceed.

Analysts were optimistic, saying the proposed offer of $7.03 per Reuters share in cash and 0.16 Thomson shares for each Reuters share was likely to go ahead without any major roadblocks.

The companies said in the joint statement the new company would retain its primary market listings in Toronto and London, but would be controlled by the Thomson family, which currently owns roughly 70 percent of the equity in Thomson Corp.

NYSE

Former chairman wins partial victory

Former New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) chairman Richard Grasso has won a partial victory in his legal fight to hold on to his $187.5 million compensation package.

The New York Appellate Division in Manhattan threw out four rulings against Grasso on Tuesday that a lower court had made last year.

The high court has not yet addressed other issues at the heart of the dispute. They include whether Grasso is entitled to a jury trial, and whether he can be ordered to pay back the disputed money without any trial, as the lower court judge ordered.

Another issue is whether the lower-court judge, Charles Ramos, should recuse himself because Grasso contends Ramos had tried years ago to become an NYSE board member.

Compiled from Bloomberg News, Seattle Times staff and The Associated Press

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