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Business news in brief

In the Region

Sprint sues Comcast on patents

Sprint Nextel Corp. accused Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp., along with Time Warner Cable Inc., Cable One Inc., and Cox Communications Inc. of infringing patents related to transmitting phone calls over digital lines. Sprint filed separate lawsuits in federal court. It claims the companies are using technology it patented in the 1990s for transmission of voice data packets. The 12 patents include some that were asserted against Vonage Holdings Corp., which agreed to pay $80 million to license the technology after losing a 2007 trial. The defendant companies declined comment. - Bloomberg News

Comcast to air BBC World News

Comcast Corp. cable TV customers in the Philadelphia area could see BBC World News by the end of the year, according to the cable company. The channel will appear on the company's "preferred digital" tier. In the Philadelphia area, Verizon Communications Inc.'s FiOS service already offers BBC World News to viewers in the Philadelphia area. With the added distribution, BBC expects to be viewed in 15 million U.S. homes. - Bob Fernandez

New CEO at Mace Security

Pepper-spray-maker Mace Security International Inc., of Horsham, has named John J. McCann as its new chief executive officer, effective early in January. McCann will replace interim CEO Michael Smith, the company said. McCann has been CEO since 2009 of Fitness Quest Inc., a privately held distributor of home-exercise products. Smith, a Mace director, had been named to the job in August. He will also leave the company board in January, but he will remain as a consultant to Mace for six months, chairman Richard A. Barone said in a prepared statement. Mace is a manufacturer of personal-defense and electronic-surveillance products. - Reid Kanaley

Gardner completes acquisition

Gardner Denver Inc., of Wayne, said it completed a previously announced $200 million acquisition of Italian manufacturer Robuschi S.p.A. Robuschi is a maker of blowers and pumps with annual revenue of about $92 million. Gardner Denver, with 2010 revenue of about $1.9 billion, makes compressors, pumps, blowers, and other products for industrial, medical, and other uses. - Reid Kanaley


AT&T calls off T-Mobile merger

AT&T Inc. ended its $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile USA Inc. after facing fierce government objections. AT&T's purchase of T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom AG of Germany would have made it the largest cellphone company in the United States. The Justice Department sued Aug. 31 to block the merger, saying it would reduce competition and lead to higher prices. Last month, the firms withdrew their application to the Federal Communications Commission after its chairman also opposed the deal. AT&T, the nation's second-largest wireless carrier behind Verizon Wireless, faces paying Deutsche Telekom $3 billion in cash for scrapping the effort. - AP

Lipitor sales plunge by half

New data show sales of cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor plunged by half barely a week after the world's top-selling drug got its first U.S. generic competition. That is despite an aggressive effort by Lipitor's maker Pfizer Inc. to keep patients on its pill, which once generated sales of $13 billion a year. Pfizer has been contracting with insurance plans to subsidize both patient co-payments and costs for insurers, to keep their costs at or below what generic Lipitor would cost. Lipitor lost U.S. patent protection Nov. 30, and two generic versions costing about one-third less are now available. - AP

Firms team to make 'biosimilar' drugs

The world's biggest biotech firm and a leading maker of generic drugs are teaming up to produce "biosimilar" versions of several biologic medicines for cancer. Amgen Inc., a maker of biologic drugs, says it is partnering with Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., which makes both generic medicines and branded drugs for women's health and for urologic conditions. Together, they plan to develop and then sell biosimilars, or generic versions of biologic drugs, under a new joint Amgen/Watson brand. Biologic drugs are complex, injected drugs "manufactured" in living cells, and are expensive. - AP

Derivatives rules delayed again

Federal regulators have put off until July the date for rules to take effect bringing oversight to the market for derivatives, the complex financial instruments blamed for helping precipitate the financial crisis. That will be two years after enactment of the 2010 financial-overhaul law requiring the rules. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced its second extension of the effective date for the rules. The regulators have not been able to complete writing many of the complex rules. - AP

Times Co. in talks to sell regional unit

The New York Times Co., struggling with declining advertising sales, is in talks to sell its regional-newspaper unit to Halifax Media Holdings L.L.C. Times' Regional Media Group consists of 16 newspapers, other print publications, and related businesses, the company said. Times Co. recorded a $152.1 million goodwill impairment charge for the Regional Media Group in the second quarter, according to a company filing. Halifax Media is based in Daytona Beach, Fla., and owns the Daytona Beach News-Journal. - Bloomberg News

Arbiter delays Kodak patent decision

A U.S. arbiter for trade disputes is delaying a decision on Eastman Kodak Co.'s high-stakes patent-infringement claim against smartphone-makers Apple Inc. and Research in Motion Ltd. An administrative judge overseeing the dispute at the U.S. International Trade Commission has set a new target date of Sept. 21, 2012, for deciding the case. The commission had previously expected to issue a final ruling by Dec. 30. A favorable ruling could enable Kodak to receive up to $1 billion in fees. - AP

Apple wins infringement ruling

Apple Inc. won a final patent-infringement ruling that bans some HTC Corp. smartphones from the United States, bolstering efforts to prove that devices running the Google Inc. Android system copy the iPhone. The U.S. International Trade Commission's ban would take effect April 19 and is subject to appeal by HTC and a review by President Obama. - Bloomberg News