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Thursday, August 12, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Internet Advancement told to refund clients

SEATTLE — The state attorney general said yesterday Redmond-based Internet Advancement must pay penalties for failing to get its customers top placement on major search engines.

Internet Advancement, which also goes by 4GreatBuys.com, must refund customers, pay $24,432 to the state for costs incurred and a civil penalty of $25,000.

The company had promised to get its customers ranked in the top 10 to 20 results on the search engines for $980 to $1,500 in set-up fees and monthly fees of $79.80 to $89.95.

The case involved "search engine optimization" services, which attempt to get businesses high placement in search-engine results.

"Internet Advancement misrepresented its success rate, promised more than it could deliver, then refused to provide refunds to customers who didn't get what they paid for," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire.

She said the Attorney General's Office, the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau received more than 100 complaints from customers around the country.

Microsoft MSN

New deals for movie lovers

Microsoft's MSN division said yesterday it has signed new deals with Blockbuster, CinemaNow and MovieTickets.com to partner on its MSN Movies site, at movies.msn.com.

People will be able to rent DVDs, download movies and buy tickets online at the site, Microsoft said. Blockbuster launched its own DVD rental service this week, and the additional placement on MSN's site will likely give it more exposure to Internet users.

Online movie-download company CinemaNow will use the site to offer a subscription service to MSN users for $9.95 a month or $49.95 a year.

Nike

Discount brands acquired

Nike, the world's largest athletic-footwear maker, acquired Official Starter Properties and Official Starter for about $43 million to gain brands that sell in discount stores.

Nike said the businesses, which own and license the Starter, Team Starter and Asphalt brands, will be operated by Exeter Brands Group, a new operating unit. Nike also gains the Shaq and Dunkman brands of apparel, footwear and accessories.

Enron

Lay won't get trial in Sept.

HOUSTON — Enron founder Kenneth Lay will not get the September trial he wanted on charges stemming from the collapse of the scandal-ridden company.

Lay had asked for a Sept. 14 trial, and told U.S. District Judge Sim Lake he would give up his right to face a jury and leave his fate in the judge's hands if that would result in a speedy prosecution.

Lake yesterday declined to set a trial date. The judge indicated he could decide by early October on whether the former Enron chairman will get a separate trial or face a judge or jury alongside his one-time protégé, former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, and the company's former top accountant, Richard Causey.

All three have pleaded not guilty.

Federated Department Stores

Profit dives while sales rise

CINCINNATI — Second-quarter profit tumbled 35 percent at Federated Department Stores, largely because of the expense of buying back debt, while sales rose 3 percent, the retailer reported yesterday.

The results fell short of analysts' expectations. Federated's stock price slipped 3 percent, even though the retailer, parent company of Bon-Macy's, slightly raised its earnings guidance for 2004.

Shares of Federated fell $1.52 to $44.50. They have declined 5.6 percent this year.

Compiled from Times staff, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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