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An employee of German Apple retailer Gravis displays an iPhone 7 and 8 in a store in Berlin, Germany, January 3, 2019.

Fabrizio Bensch | Reuters

An employee of German Apple retailer Gravis displays an iPhone 7 and 8 in a store in Berlin, Germany, January 3, 2019.

Apple Inc said Thursday that it will resume selling older iPhone models in its stores in Germany after they were banned last year, but only with chips from Qualcomm Inc, which is in a global legal battle against the Cupertino company.

Apple said it had “no choice” but to stop using some chips from Intel Corp in iPhones headed to Germany in order to comply with a patent infringement lawsuit Qualcomm won against Apple there in December.

Qualcomm, the world’s biggest supplier of mobile chips, sued Apple in Germany alleging that some older iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models violated Qualcomm patents around so-called envelope tracking, a feature that helps mobile phones save battery power while sending and receiving wireless signals. The alleged patent violation stemmed not from Intel chips but yet another Apple supplier – Qorvo Inc – whose chip was only present in older phones with Intel modems.

The court sided with Qualcomm and banned sales of some iPhone models that used Intel modem chips, leading Apple to pull the devices from its 15 retail stories in Germany and its online store in the country.

The ban was a victory in Qualcomm’s legal conflict with Apple.

The iPhone maker has alleged that Qualcomm engaged in illegal patent licensing practices to protect a monopoly on so-called modem chips, which connect mobile phones to wireless data networks. Qualcomm has in turn alleged that Apple has infringed its patents. A major case between the two goes to trial in the United States in April.

Apple began phasing in Intel’s modem chips in 2016 after years of using chips exclusively from Qualcomm. In last year’s iPhone models, Apple dropped Qualcomm’s chips completely in favor of Intel’s.

But Qualcomm has continued to supply Apple with chips for older models, and Apple on Thursday said it would use only those for German iPhone 7 and 8 models.

“Qualcomm is attempting to use injunctions against our products to try to get Apple to succumb to their extortionist demands,” Apple said in a statement to Reuters.

Newer iPhones with Intel chips remain on sale in Germany.

“Intel’s modem products are not involved in this lawsuit and are not subject to this or any other injunction,” Steven Rodgers, Intel’s general counsel, said in a statement.

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Trump demands Calif give back feds billions for bullet train project

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President Donald Trump late Wednesday demanded California return the $3.5 billion it received from the federal government for a “disaster” high-speed rail project.

“California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars,” Trump tweeted. “They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”

The $77 billion bullet train project, a planned system linking San Francisco to Los Angeles, has faced cost overruns and delays. California Gov. Gavin Newsom at his first state of the state address Tuesday announced a scale back of the high-speed rail project, saying the current plan “would cost too much and take too long.”

However, Newsom responded to Trump’s tweet Wednesday by calling it “fake news. We’re building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond.”

The Democratic governor also suggested in the tweet that Trump was “desperately searching” for some border wall money.

Newsom said Tuesday during his address at the State Capitol in Sacramento that he approved of going ahead with part of the high-speed rail link — a section between Merced and Bakersfield. He said the state can work toward connecting the Central Valley to other parts of California while also seeking more federal funding and private money.

A decade ago, California voters approved Proposition 1A, authorizing nearly $10 billion in bond money for the construction of the high-speed rail system expected to travel at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour. The state also was awarded about $3.5 billion in federal funds in 2010 to help with the project.

Construction on the 119-mile Central Valley segment of the fast-speed rail line began in 2013. The 520-mile rail system from the San Francisco Bay Area to LA wasn’t expected to begin operating until the 2030s.

Newsom acknowledged Tuesday that if the state abandoned the project, it could be forced to give back billions of dollars to the federal government.

“I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump,” Newsom said. “Nor am I interested in repeating the same old mistakes.”

An audit last year faulted California’s High-Speed Rail Authority for “flawed decision making and poor contract management.” A business plan released in early 2018 showed its projected baseline cost soared by up to 20 percent from two years earlier and indicated the cost could rise to nearly $100 billion.

The governor ordered “new transparency measures” on the rail project and said the state will “hold contractors and consultants accountable.”

Newsom, who took office Jan. 7, has been outspoken against Trump for everything from immigration to climate change. He has also blasted the Republican president for threatening to withhold federal funds to the state for wildfire relief.



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Crypto exchange Binance profitable despite bear market, CFO says

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A photo illustration of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is seen on September 13 2018 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. 

Yu Chun Christopher Wong | S3studio | Getty Images

A photo illustration of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is seen on September 13 2018 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. 

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, is still profitable despite last year’s market meltdown, its chief financial officer said.

Last year saw the prices of major virtual currencies plunge dramatically. Bitcoin, the most valuable crypto, is down 80 percent from a near-$20,000 record high it set in December 2017.

“To date, even in this bear market, we still run a profitable business,” Binance CFO Wei Zhou told CNBC in a phone interview Wednesday.

The company doesn’t disclose its financials publicly, he said, and media outlets have been publishing estimates based on publicly available metrics.

One report, by industry publication The Block, estimates Binance made $446 million last year, based on an analysis of how much it spent to buy back units of its token, called BNB, using its net profits.

The start-up’s Chief Executive Changpeng Zhao told Bloomberg in July that Binance was targeting a net profit of between $500 million and $1 billion in 2018.

The company has only been around since July 2017, but has become a dominant force in the nascent sector. It raised $15 million in its initial coin offering — a funding alternative to venture capital where start-ups sell new crypto tokens instead of equity.

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Airbus A380 superjumbo: The rise and fall

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Airbus’ Global Market Forecast from the year 2000 predicted that 1,235 “very large aircraft” would be delivered to customers between 2000 and 2019. But as of January 2019, Airbus had received 313 firm orders and delivered just 234 aircraft.

The firm’s lofty target was swiftly undermined by the arrival of more fuel-friendly offerings such as Airbus’s own A350 or Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

The smaller aircraft were lighter and could be run more efficiently as the expectation of a steep rise in passenger travel failed to materialize. It was also found that very few routes could operate the A380 at full capacity.

Timing does seem to have been a problem. As the A380 hit the world’s runways, a worldwide liberalization of flight routes known as “Open Skies” was underway. This allowed airlines to downsize their planes and fly more regularly.

Added to that is the rise of the ultra long-haul flight. Airlines have asked both Boeing and Airbus to come up with planes that can haul passengers from one side of the world without stopping.

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