Business & Finance

Microsoft was ordered to pay $520 million in damages by a federal jury in Illinois, which found that the popular Internet Explorer Web browser infringed on the patent rights of Eolas Technologies Inc., a Chicago startup, and the University of California. Microsoft said it would appeal the verdict.

AOL Time Warner is considering dropping "AOL" from its name under a proposal submitted by America Online chief executive Jonathan Miller, published reports said. A decision by the board could come next month. The change would mark a dramatic shift from the much-hyped merger creating the media/online giant in 2000. Since then, it has been rocked by regulatory inquiries into accounting practices, by shareholder lawsuits, and by a steady loss of subscribers.

Improperly deferred expenses at MetLife Inc.'s New England Financial affiliate prompted the firing of three employees and the departure of the unit's president, the company said. The insurer also lowered its second quarter earnings to $580 million, from $611 million.

New emergency loans - probably in the billion-dollar range - are being sought by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, reports said. The carriers, Japan's largest, both have experienced a drop in travel as a result of the SARS virus outbreak in Asia and the war in Iraq. Two years ago, the government-run Development Bank of Japan participated in a $2 billion airline bailout in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the US.

As many as 4,000 workers will lose their jobs under a new strategy announced by Japan Tobacco Inc., the Tokyo newspaper Asahi reported. It said the company projects a 3 percent annual drop in domestic cigarette sales between now and the end of the 2005 fiscal year and will respond by closing "five or six" factories and shifting emphasis to its operations elsewhere in Asia and in eastern Europe.

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