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Business in brief: Apple iPhone release limited

Sat., June 16, 2007

Customers clamoring to get their hands on Apple Inc.’s highly anticipated iPhone better make sure they’re at the right store.

The combination cell phone, media player and wireless Web device will only be sold at stores owned by Apple Inc. and AT&T Inc., which has an exclusive deal to offer service for the device when it’s launched June 29. The device goes on sale at 6 p.m.

AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook said the limited availability will only be for the launch. Later, it will be sold on the Internet and through other outlets.

AT&T owns 1,800 retail stores – which it has been rebranding from Cingular since taking over ownership late last year – but thousands of other franchise outlets carry the AT&T or Cingular name. In all, AT&T has 8,000 franchise outlets and retail carriers, though retailers usually carry AT&T competitors as well.

The iPhone will sell for $499 and $599, but AT&T has not disclosed what the contract service fees will be.

The device, which uses a touch-sensitive screen rather than a keypad, has been hotly anticipated with more than 1 million people signing up with AT&T to receive notice when the device is available. Apple has not indicated how many units will be available at launch.


Nintendo in U.S. sued over patent

A Texas company has sued Nintendo Co.’s U.S. arm, charging that it infringed on a patent in designing the Wii video game system.

Lonestar Inventions LP asked for triple damages, but no specific amount, and an injunction against Nintendo using the patented technology. The lawsuit was filed last week in federal district court in Tyler.

Nintendo of America is based in Redmond, Wash.

In 1993, one of Lonestar’s principals, Osman E. Akcasu, patented a structure for capacitors that took up less space on a semiconductor chip by using parallel conducting strips.

Lonestar claimed that the same design shows up in Nintendo products but didn’t identify any. Phillip Bruns, a lawyer for the company, said it appears in the Wii.

Julia Roether, a spokeswoman for Nintendo, said the company was not contacted by Lonestar before the lawsuit was filed. She also said that because the lawsuit didn’t identify any product or component from Nintendo, it was impossible to comment.

Nintendo, the Japanese maker of Super Mario and Pokemon games, shipped 5.8 million Wii consoles worldwide from its debut late last year through March 31. The game uses a wandlike remote control that lets players simulate the movements in hitting a baseball or tennis ball.


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