Business & Finance

Sony Corp. retaliated against US camera giant Eastman Kodak, filing a lawsuit in federal court in New Jersey Wednesday that alleges the latter infringed on 10 of its digital photography patents. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages and an order to stop using the relevant technologies without permission, came three weeks after Eastman Kodak sued over an identical number of alleged patent infringements. Based on 2003 sales, Sony ranks No. 1 in the competition for market share in digital photography in the US, with Eastman Kodak No. 2. The Rochester, N.Y., company successfully sued another Japanese rival, Sanyo, three years ago for digital patent infringement.

In an unrelated development, Eastman Kodak lost its place - along with communications giant AT&T and International Paper - in the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average. Beginning next Thursday, they will be replaced by Verizon Communications, pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer Corp., and AIG Corp., a leading financial services provider. The Wall Street Journal, which selects the stocks in the index, said the change "recognize[s] trends ... including continued growth of the financial and healthcare sectors and the diminishing relative weight of basic materials stocks."

In a deal valued at $2.3 billion in cash and assumption of debt, Developers Diversified Realty Group of Cleveland agreed to buy 110 shopping centers from Benderson Development Co. Inc., one of the largest private developers in North America. The seller is based in Buffalo, N.Y. Although the portfolio includes centers in 11 states, most are concentrated in New York and New Jersey, where Developers Diversified seeks a greater presence.

Google Inc. upped the ante in its three-way battle for Internet supremacy, announcing plans to offer a free service called "Gmail." The feature has one gigabyte of storage space, far more than rivals Yahoo! and Microsoft. Google said it hopes to turn a profit from Gmail by delivering text-based ads related to e-mail content while guarding the privacy of users.

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