News In Brief

New legal woes arose for Microsoft as the company was served with a "statement of objections" by the European Union that requires a reply within two months. Responding to a complaint by rival Sun Microsystems, the EU alleged that the Redmond, Wash., giant is abusing its market position in computer operating-systems software by "engaging in discriminatory licensing and by refusing to supply essential information" on its Windows systems. If the EU finds evidence of antitrust abuse, its executive commission could fine Microsoft up to 10 percent of annual worldwide sales. An EU spokesman also said the case could be merged with a related investigation against Microsoft that began in February because of competitors' complaints.

The maker of Wonder Bread, Twinkies, and Hostess Cupcakes vowed to appeal a $120 million punitive-damages award in a racial discrimination lawsuit. A jury in San Francisco determined the sum Wednesday for 17 black former employees of Interstate Bakeries Corp., the nation's largest wholesale baker. The plaintiffs alleged a hostile work environment, lack of promotion and hiring, and name-calling at facilities in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, Calif. Earlier, the jury awarded $11 million in compensatory damages to 21 employees; the judge reduced that figure to $5.8 million.

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