A federal judge issued a final order thwarting an attempt by Google to invalidate an employment contract that bans former Microsoft Vice President Kai- Fu Lee from working on some Google projects.

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A federal judge issued a final order thwarting an attempt by Google to invalidate an employment contract that bans former Microsoft Vice President Kai- Fu Lee from working on some Google projects.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte in San Jose, Calif., issued his order Thursday night granting Microsoft’s request to delay Google’s suit until a related case in Seattle is resolved. In that case, Washington state Judge Steven Gonzalez last month barred Lee from working on technical research at Google until after a Jan. 9 trial.

The ruling was the latest in a battle in two states over Lee, a former computer professor hired away from Microsoft by Google to develop business in China.

Nextel Partners

Tax benefit sends profits soaring

Nextel Partners said Thursday that third-quarter profit rose more than 10-fold because of a $378.5 million tax benefit.

The Kirkland company’s profit climbed to $434.5 million, or $1.41 a share, from $34.4 million, or 12 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose 31 percent to $473.1 million. Profit excluding the gain was 21 cents, beating the 19-cent average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.


EU asks court to reject appeal

European Union regulators asked a court to throw out Microsoft’s appeal of an EU order to disclose information to competitors.

The European Commission asked the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg on Oct. 4 to reject Microsoft’s legal challenge because it isn’t based on a legally binding ruling, said EU officials who declined to be identified. The filings aren’t open to the public.

Microsoft requested a ruling in August on whether it must license information to makers of free software such as Linux, arguing the requirement effectively forces it to give away trade secrets.

Nation / World

WorldCom Group recovers $651 million in suit

NEW YORK — A group of state and local retirement funds and insurance companies recovered $651 million from WorldCom’s investment banks, auditors and company officers in a settlement announced Thursday.

As part of the settlement, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, two of the defendants in several nonclass action suits filed by the funds, agreed to jointly petition the Securities and Exchange Commission for more stringent disclosures by banks underwriting future stock and bond offerings.

The plaintiffs had purchased WorldCom stocks and bonds between 1998 and 2001, during which time company officials had regularly altered WorldCom’s financial statements to hide losses.


Group recovers $651 million in suit

HealthSouth founder surrenders to federal marshals HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy, acquitted in June of a $2.7 billion fraud, surrendered to federal marshals Thursday on charges of bribing former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

Scrushy arrived Thursday at the federal courthouse in Montgomery, Ala., went to the marshals’ office, then left. Siegelman also gave himself up to federal authorities Thursday in Montgomery, was fingerprinted, went to lunch, returned in the afternoon and pleaded not guilty.

Scrushy, 53, is accused of making two payments worth $500,000 to the Alabama Education Fund, a vehicle for Siegelman’s campaign for a statewide lottery, in exchange for a seat on the state’s hospital certificate-of-need board. A Montgomery grand jury indicted Scrushy in May during his accounting-fraud trial in Birmingham, Ala. The charges were under seal until Wednesday.

“This is a lie,” Scrushy said to a reporter as he left the courthouse. “They are using the press to put their spin on things.” Scrushy’s Web site Thursday afternoon said the government told Scrushy he would not be indicted if he testified against Siegelman.


Job losses mount from hurricanes

Job losses from hurricanes Katrina and Rita have passed the half-million mark with further increases still to come from Wilma as the Gulf Coast hurricanes continue to batter the economy.

Meanwhile, new-home prices declined last month, a possible indication that rising interest rates are starting to cool off the red-hot housing market.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that an additional 24,000 workers who lost jobs because of Katrina, which hit Aug. 29, and Rita, which struck Sept. 24, filed applications for unemployment benefits last week. That pushed the total over the past eight weeks to 502,000 hurricane-related claims.

The weekly job losses from Katrina and Rita peaked at 108,000 in mid-September and have been trending lower since that time. However, analysts said Wilma, which hit Florida on Monday, will likely spark a surge in jobless claims in coming weeks.


Glaxo, AstraZeneca raise their forecasts

GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, Britain’s largest drug makers, both lifted their forecasts for full-year earnings on the back of strong third-quarter profits reported Thursday.

At the other end of the spectrum in the pharmaceutical sector, U.S. biotech company ImClone Systems’ profit fell on lower revenues and higher costs and Irish drug maker Elan reported a loss as it struggles with the fallout from its suspended multiple-sclerosis drug Tysabri.

GlaxoSmithKline said its earnings rose 19.6 percent for the three months ending Sept. 30 to $2.2 billion. Revenue increased 11 percent to $9.71 billion.

The strong performance led the company to boost its full-year earnings per share forecast to “mid-teens” percentage growth. Glaxo previously said it expected low double-digit growth. Its shares rose 2.7 percent in trading on the London Stock Exchange.

ImClone, the New York company whose shares figured in the Martha Stewart stock scandal, said its third-quarter profit dropped 29 percent to $31 million from $39.8 million a year earlier. Revenue grew 9 percent to $106.5 million from $97.5 million as higher license fees, benchmark payments and royalties offset the drop in manufacturing revenue.

Compiled from Bloomberg News and The Associated Press