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A roundup of the latest high-tech news from The Associated Press:
• Palm shares continue downward spiral
NEW YORK — Investors have been selling shares of Palm Inc. (Nasdaq: PALM) at a rapid pace this year, worried that the company won’t be able to turn its business around with new smart phones because of fierce competition from Apple and BlackBerry.
The stock has lost nearly 40 percent of its value so far this year. On Thursday it fell 31 cents, or 5 percent, to $5.96. Shares of rival Research in Motion Ltd., meanwhile, have risen nearly 4 percent year-to-date.
Palm has been looking to revamp its business with its new Pre and Pixi phones. But it faces tough competition from Apple Inc.’s iPhone, RIM’s BlackBerry and Motorola Inc.’s Droid. Last month, Palm said it expects sales this year to be "well below" its earlier outlook of $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion. It also gave a revenue forecast for the fiscal third quarter, which ended in February, that was well short of Wall Street estimates.
Avian Securities analyst Matthew Thornton sees the stock falling as far as $4 in the short term, since not even the stock’s cheap valuation is enough reason for investors to dive in.
To make a comeback, Palm will need to improve its marketing efforts and launch strong hardware, according to the analyst.
"Everyone has universally accepted that the software is great," said Thornton in an interview. "(But) the hardware just doesn’t stand out."
Coupled with lackluster marketing, the company has fallen behind its competitors. Motorola has done a much better job marketing the Droid, for example.
Thornton rates Palm "Neutral" with a target price of $6.50.
"I think they’ve got one more shot," he said. "Competition is only getting tougher. One more slip-up in the way of ho-hum hardware design and it’s going to be lights out."
• TiVo prevails in patent rights case against Dish
ALVISIO, Calif. – TiVo Inc. prevailed yet again in a long-running dispute with Dish Network Corp. over patents for digital video recorders, as a federal appeals court cleared the way Thursday for TiVo to collect hundreds of millions of dollars. TiVo shares jumped more than 50 percent.
Despite repeatedly losing, however, Dish said it will seek a review of the three-judge panel’s decision by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
TiVo said the decision, if it stands, would let it collect at least $300 million from Dish — about $100 million in damages and interest, and the rest in contempt sanctions that TiVo already has been awarded. That would be on top of about $100 million in damages that Dish had already paid TiVo in earlier litigation.
TiVo has struggled with being consistently profitable, and being able to collect such an amount would help get it into the black. TiVo came out with its DVR in 1999 and "TiVo" became a verb synonymous with recording TV, but it has faced intense competition from generic DVRs offered by Dish and other subscription TV providers.
The company also has sued AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., charging them with infringing on certain DVR patents. Microsoft Corp. has waded into the fight on AT&T’s side.
"The courts have ruled in TiVo’s favor numerous times over the past five years, which should help … in the company’s litigation against AT&T, Verizon, and Microsoft," Tony Wible, an analyst from Janney Montgomery Scott, said in a research note.
At issue is a TiVo patent on technology for storing and retrieving video on DVRs, which lets viewers pause, rewind and replay live TV. TiVo sued Dish in 2004 for patent infringement for using a similar technology on its DVRs, a case Dish lost on appeal. Dish paid TiVo $104.6 million in damages and interest and was barred from using the technology.
• ‘Call of Duty’ video game execs sue over firing
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Two game studio heads fired by Activision this week are suing the video game publisher, saying it let them go to avoid paying hefty royalties from the popular "Call of Duty."
In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Jason West and Vince Zampella are seeking damages "in excess of $36 million," as well as future royalties.
West and Zampella were top executives at Infinity Ward, the studio behind last fall’s immensely lucrative "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" and other games.
In a statement Thursday, Activision Blizzard Inc. called the claims "meritless" and said its decision was justified.