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TALKING POINTS

J&J said to settle baby powder case amid legal onslaught

J&J said to settle baby powder case amid legal onslaught

Johnson & Johnson may be sending a peace signal after two years of warring over allegations that its baby powder causes cancer. The world’s largest health care products maker and its talc supplier agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to a woman who claimed J&J’s baby powder gave her cancer, according to people familiar with the accord. “They are tired of dealing with headline-grabbing verdicts,” said Elizabeth Burch, a professor at the University of Georgia. Media reports last week disclosed J&J has been worried since the 1970s about asbestos, a carcinogen, showing up in its talc-based products. J&J declined to comment; an Imerys spokesman said the company had resolved its part of the case. J&J has steadfastly denied that its baby powder contains asbestos. “We unequivocally believe that our talc, our baby powder, does not contain asbestos,” Alex Gorsky, J&J’s chief executive, said on CNBC Monday. Many other women have blamed J&J and Imerys for giving them ovarian cancer. Juries in several states have handed down more than $5 billion in awards to plaintiffs, some of which were thrown out on appeal, while J&J has won verdicts or hung juries in other cases. J&J faces more trials in 2019, including several in St. Louis — the site of a $4.67 billion verdict earlier this year. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

RETAIL

Williams-Sonoma claims Amazon copied furniture designs

Williams-Sonoma Inc. sued Amazon.com Inc., alleging the online retailer’s private “Rivet” furniture line includes products that are “strikingly similar” to Williams-Sonoma’s West Elm brand, including a $300 orb chair. "It is implausible Amazon could have conceived of a product line with nearly identical product designs which feature product names containing the very same nondescriptive terms WSI uses in connection with these products, other than by intentionally undertaking to copy WSI’s West Elm product line," according to the suit. Amazon, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment. Williams-Sonoma said three of the chairs Amazon allegedly copied were designed in-house and accounted for $8 million in Williams-Sonoma revenue in the first 10 months of the year. The complaint underscores Amazon’s power as to glean insights on products based on the searches of hundreds of millions of customers. Amazon’s private-label products pressure brands to sell and advertise their goods on the Web store, lest their customers start buying similar products Amazon is making. “Amazon can have manufacturers make something just close enough for a consumer to buy it and sell it for 30 percent less while making it just different enough to not violate a patent," said James Thomson, a former Amazon executive who now advises merchants how to sell on the marketplace. “If someone searched Amazon for a Williams-Sonoma chair and couldn’t find one, they will market to them when they make a cheaper chair." — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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TAXATION

US tech firms facing new tax in France

The French government is accelerating a plan to place hefty taxes on American technology giants that have long maneuvered to keep their bills low. France has been working with other countries on a European Union-wide digital tax on companies, but some members of the bloc have balked at the proposal. “The tax will be introduced no matter what on Jan. 1, and it will be for the whole of 2019,” said French finance minister Bruno Le Maire. He estimated the total tax bill for the companies affected at around 500 million euros ($569 million). It will help pay for 10 billion euros ($11.3 million) in emergency spending announced last week by President Emmanuel Macron after waves of angry citizens took to the streets of Paris and other cities to protest growing inequality. The tax, Le Maire said, would most likely cover not only the companies’ direct sales in France, but also revenue from online marketplaces and the resale of private data. The European Commission proposal would tax digital media companies based on where they generate revenue, rather than in low-tax countries such as Ireland and Luxembourg where they have regional headquarters. In Britain officials have unveiled a proposed 2 percent tax on revenue that social media platforms, search engines, and online marketplaces earn there, while Spain is introducing a 3 percent tax on online advertising services, brokering services, and resale of personal data. — NEW YORK TIMES

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MEDIA

Carlson comments on immigrants cause some advertisers to drop his Fox show

Some advertisers say they are leaving conservative host Tucker Carlson’s show following his remarks referring to immigrants as ‘‘the world’s poor.’’ So far, the biggest advertisers are sticking with him and his prime-time show, ‘‘Tucker Carlson Tonight.’’ Carlson said last Thursday that there’s pressure from ‘‘our leaders’’ to accept immigrants ‘‘even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided.’’ He added Monday that in the Southwest, ‘‘thanks to illegal immigration, huge swaths of the region are covered with garbage and waste that degrade the soil and kill wildlife.’’ Advertisers including NerdWallet and Pacific Life insurance have pulled commercials from the show. Earlier this year, Laura Ingraham lost some advertisers after negative comments about Florida school shooting survivor David Hogg. Last year, Bill O'Reilly saw advertisers abandon him following reports of sexual-misconduct complaints; he left the network shortly afterward. Fox News Channel said ‘‘left wing advocacy groups’’ were using social media to ‘‘stifle free speech.’’ Fox added that all advertisers have switched their ads to other shows, so no revenue was lost. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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TECHNOLOGY

Supermarket launches driverless deliveries

Deliveries from an Arizona grocery store will soon be arriving with no one behind the wheel. Beginning Tuesday, a fully autonomous vehicle will pilot public roads with no back up driver, though it will be monitored by humans in another automobile. After almost a thousand test runs with humans aboard modified Prius vehicles, deliveries will be made Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz., using the R1, an automobile with no steering wheel and no seats for humans. The R1 will travel within a one-mile radius of the Fry’s Food grocery store just east of the Phoenix Zoo. It will travel up to 25 miles per hour on residential roads, but stay clear of main roads or highways, according to Pam Giannonatti at Kroger Co., which owns Fry’s. Kroger has partnered with the tech company Nuro on the project. Fry’s Food customers will get text messages when the delivery is underway, and once the vehicle arrives, the customer will receive a punch code to open the doors of the vehicle, Giannonatti said. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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TECHNOLOGY

GPS satellite due in space

The launch of a new GPS satellite has been postponed for one day because of an unspecified problem with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will put the satellite in orbit. The rocket was scheduled to lift off Tuesday morning from Cape Canaveral, Fla., but SpaceX says that was scratched because of sensor readings on the rocket’s first stage. Neither SpaceX nor the US Air Force provided details. The launch was rescheduled for Wednesday. The rocket will carry a GPS III satellite, the first of new generation of GPS orbiters. They are designed to be more accurate, secure, and versatile than predecessors. This will be the first GPS satellite launch for a SpaceX rocket. The Air Force designs and operates the GPS system, which has widespread civilian and military applications. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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AUTO RACING

Globe owner John Henry said to be interested in a Nascar stake

John Henry, owner of The Boston Globe, has shown interest in buying a stake in Nascar, potentially adding to a sports empire that includes the Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool Football Club, people familiar with the situation said. Nascar has been seeking minority investors, and Henry is already involved with the stock-car racing organization. His company, Fenway Sports Group, formed a partnership in 2007 with Roush Racing, home to drivers such as Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Representatives for Nascar and Fenway Sports declined to comment. Nascar last month bid roughly $1.9 billion for International Speedway Corp., a deal that would more tightly combine the companies. Both businesses are already controlled by the France family, and merging the assets may make it easier for a new investor to step in. Nascar is seeking investors at a time of falling ratings and the loss of some big sponsors, including Lowe’s Cos. Drivers such as Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jeff Gordon have retired, leaving the sport with fewer superstar draws. — BLOOMBERG NEWS