Morning Business Memo:
Did Samsung steal Apple’s secrets or was it the other way around? The judge in the long-running patent dispute urged both companies to settle. But last-minute talks by Apple and Samsung failed to reach a deal. Lawyers made closing arguments, and the jury is set to get the case today in San Jose, Calif. Apple says Samsung ripped off its iPhone and iPad technology. Samsung takes the opposite view. Both rival companies are seeking damages. The jury’s likely to consider whether Samsung tablets and phones look and feel almost identical to Apple products. “The Apple lawyers are good at telling a story,” Christina Bonnington of Wired Magazine said. ” They’re good at explaining things in terms that an everyday person can understand. Samsung’s argument is a lot more technically complicated and it’s just a lot harder to grasp.”
The labor group hired by Apple to look into working conditions at three manufacturing plants in China says the improvements it recommended in March are being implemented ahead of schedule. Conditions at Apple supplier Foxconn were the subject of an ABC News “Nightline” report this year. The Fair Labor Association says Foxconn had completed all 195 improvements to working conditions that were due by the end of May. Among the changes: Foxconn reduced work hours to 60 per week.
A big slump in sales of desktop and laptop computers is hurting Dell. The firm lowered its profits target by 20 percent for its fiscal year. Dell is trying to adjust to the shift to more mobile computing by expanding into software, technology consulting, data storage and computer servers. They all produce higher profit margins than selling PCs and printers. Hewlett Packard has said its quarterly results, to be released late today, are set to be the worst in its history.
Fifty shades of green for Barnes & Noble. The struggling bookseller reported a smaller loss for its latest quarter. Some of the improvement came from hot sales of the racy trilogy “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James. Barnes & Noble also reported strong sales growth of its Nook e-reader.
First there was HSBC, then Standard Chartered. Now, another large overseas bank is under investigation for violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran. The Financial Times says the Royal Bank of Scotland is facing questions from the Justice Department and Federal Reserve. No comment from RBS. Two years ago, Royal Bank of Scotland was fined $500 million by U.S. regulators for money-laundering activities by the Dutch bank ABN Amro, which was taken over in 2007 by a consortium led by RBS.