Morning Business Memo:
Are two technology giants ready to end their bitter patent dispute? The CEOs of Apple and Google are reported to be in talks about a range of intellectual property issues, including copyright infringement. Bloomberg News says Tim Cook and Larry Page "spoke by phone last week and are expected to talk more soon," according to a person with knowledge of the conversations. Apple has sued several companies that use Google's Android software. Google has not been the target of an Apple lawsuit, but competition between the two tech giants has heated up in recent years as the market has shifted from PCs and laptops to mobile devices. Motorola Mobility, the smartphone maker now owned by Google, filed a complaint against Apple, claiming infringement of several patents including one linked to Siri, Apple's popular voice-recognition apps on iPhones.
Samsung is the winner in the latest round of its patent war with Apple. A court in Japan dismissed Apple's claim of copyright infringement. In a session in Tokyo lasting just a few minutes the judge said he did not think Samsung products fell into the realm of Apple technology and dismissed the lawsuit, filed by Apple last year. Last week a jury in California awarded Apple $1 billion in damages.
American consumers broke out of their recent spending slump. July's consumer spending rise was the strongest in five months, according to the Commerce Department. New sales results for August by some major retailers also came in stronger than expected. One reason may be that more consumers refinanced their mortgages, lowering their interest rates: "It's a win for the homeowner because he's paying less on his mortgage: it's a win for the economy because it frees up income that the consumer can use for other things, " says economist Carey Leahy of Decision Economics.
No end in sight to Europe's painful economic crisis. Official figures show the unemployment rate across the 17 countries that use the euro remained at a record high of 11.3 percent in July, the same as in June but up 1.2 points from a year earlier. The data from the European Union's statistical agency, Eurostat, show the financial crisis continues to hurt the economy, with the jobless rate continuing to creep higher to record levels in Spain and Greece.
Ford says the Focus is on track to be the world's top-selling car - beating the Toyota Corolla. Ford sold 489,616 Focus sedans and hatchbacks worldwide in the first half of 2011, almost 27,000 more than the Corolla. The Ford Focus is sold in more than a hundred countries. But the Corolla is still the best-selling car in the US.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc