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Hollywood Sues RealNetworks to Prohibit DVD-Copying Software

Six Hollywood studios have involved themselves in a legal tussle with Seattle-based RealNetworks over a $30 software program that allows people to copy DVD movies onto their computers’ hard drives. RealNetworks, the company behind RealPlayer software, insists that its new RealDVD software simply enables users to make backups of their favorite movie discs. The company also said that RealDVD conforms to Hollywood’s encryption rules on DVD protection, which prevent illegal online file sharing. In response to the suit, RealNetworks has countersued the Hollywood studios in federal court in San Francisco, seeking to confirm that the program does not violate Hollywood’s DVD license. ''RealDVD should be called StealDVD,'' said Greg Goeckner, executive vice president for the Motion Picture Association of America. ''RealNetworks knows its product violates the law, and undermines the hard-won trust that has been growing between America’s moviemakers and the technology community,'' Goeckner said.

IBM Lotus Lets iNotes Bloom on Apple’s iPhone

Apple received a major boost in its efforts to make the iPhone more popular in the corporate world when International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) issued software to allow its Lotus Notes software, including the application’s email, calendar, and contacts functions, to be used on the iPhone. The new package, which is being called iNotes UltraLite, will be free for anyone who has a Lotus Notes license. Many analysts believe that the iPhone, which is still primarily a non-business consumer device, will begin to attract the interest of corporate customers as a competitor to the BlackBerry device sold by Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM). According to the latest reports, the company has already issued about 140 million Lotus licenses for the new software. IBM also encourages iPhone users to use IBM's Lotus Mobile Connect virtual private network software along with iNotes UltraLite for easier browsing.

Florida Sues Merck for Misleading Drug Marketing

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has filed a lawsuit against Merck and Company, Inc., alleging that the company conducted deceptive marketing practices in order to sell Vioxx, one of its prescription drugs. The suit claims that Merck repeatedly failed to disclose the drug’s adverse effects while offering it to the state’s Medicaid program as a safe painkiller, directly violating the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act. Vioxx was removed from the market in 2004 after studies suggested that consumers had a greater risk of heart attack and stroke associated with long-term use. The state investigated Merck’s promotional practices for Vioxx for three years and claims that the company’s campaign was intended to convince purchasers that the drug was not only safe but that they should demand it from their healthcare professionals for pain treatment. In the lawsuit, the state seeks restitution for all state program payments on Vioxx, plus interest. It also seeks civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each time that Merck’s marketing resulted in a Vioxx purchase. Eight other states have previously brought similar suits against Merck, including Alaska, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Texas, and Utah.
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