The week’s news included; Sonos wins patent infringement lawsuit against Google, Ring pays $5m fine after employee spies on users, Diddy sues Diageo for discrimination over the distribution of his tequila brand.

Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page, Facebook page and Instagram Page, for regular posts of important headlines. Get all the important stories and insights straight into your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list here.

Opinion articles of the week: 

  • City A.M. – London can lead the financial world thanks to its command of artificial intelligence
  • CNBC – How the A.I. explosion could save the market and maybe the economy
  • City A.M. – Succession: CMA would block a Waystar merger just like Microsoft – and it hurts Britain
  • CNN – China’s answer to Boeing and Airbus isn’t as ‘homegrown’ as it seems. Here’s why
  • City A.M – Why have the Bank of England and the IMF been so wrong on the UK economy?

1. CONGRESS RAISES DEBT CEILING

The US Congress has successfully agreed to raise its debt ceiling, avoiding a disastrous default on its $31 trillion debt. The deal narrowly passed the US Senate with lawmakers voting 63-36 in favour of the deal. 60 votes were needed to approve the deal. Raising the debt ceiling (the agreed amount the government can borrow) is often controversial because it requires the opposition party to approve the spending plans of the incumbent government. Here, Republicans were in staunch disagreement over spending on policies like student loan forgiveness. Eventually however, an adequate deal was reached. The agreement temporarily removes the debt ceiling until 1 January 2025. 

2. SONOS WINS PATENT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT VS GOOGLE

Speaker manufacturer Sonos has won a patent infringement lawsuit against Google. Sonos accused Google of infringing on five of its patents with its smart speakers and media players. Google allegedly copied this technology following its partnership with Sonos in 2013. Some of Google’s infringing technology included its Chromecast Audio and its Google Assistant, according to Sonos. A jury found that Google had infringed upon one of the patents and Sonos was awarded $32.5 million in damages. 

Sonos had also beat Google at the Federal Trade Commission over the same issue. Some features were consequently removed from Google’s smart speaker and display products. Furthermore, an import ban was also placed on some Google products.

3. AMAZON SETTLES PRIVACY LAWSUIT FOR $30M

Amazon has settled lawsuits over privacy violations for over $30 million. The tech giant allegedly stored sensitive Alexa recordings of children, even after parents requested deletion. The sensitive data was instead stored unlawfully for years to help improve Alexa’s algorithm. Alexa is Amazon’s voice controlled home assistant. Amazon is to pay $25 million to the US Federal Trade Commission to settle this case.

Ring, the doorbell and security system company owned by Amazon, will also pay $5.8 million over a separate privacy violation. Ring employees were reportedly given unfettered access to customer data. They could even download customer recordings for their own use. In one instance, a Ring employee allegedly viewed thousands of security camera recordings of a female customer, viewing intimate areas like bedrooms and bathrooms. Amazon denies breaking privacy rules but settled the matters to move forward and agreed to work on its privacy features.

4. BA FINED OVER COVID REFUNDS

BA has been fined $1.1 million in the US for failing to refund customers in a timely fashion for cancelled flights during the pandemic. Over 1200 customers had complained to the US Department of Transportation over BA’s refund process. BA reportedly required customers to contact their customer service by phone lines to request refunds. Customers however, were unable to reach any representatives for months as the lines were inadequately staffed. This left customers completely unable to obtain their refunds. At no point was there any way to request refunds online. BA denied the allegations and claims it acted lawfully at all times but agreed to pay the fine. 

5. NVIDIA HITS $1 TRILLION

Chipmaker Nvidia has reached a $1 trillion valuation, becoming the first in its field to reach this illustrious milestone. Nvidia produces AI chips and graphics processing units (GPUs) used in supercomputers and AI tech. It has become the chipmaker of choice for companies seeking to ride the wave of AI. It is also the chipmaker behind OpenAI’s ChatGPT. An estimated 10,000 Nvidia chips were used to develop ChatGPT. Nvidia is the ninth company to reach a $1 trillion valuation. Apple became the first in history in 2018. 

6. CAPITA DATA BREACHES

Outsourcing firm Capita has suffered two data breaches, exposing data held by around 90 different organisations. Capita is a huge company that operates systems for the UK military, NHS, major pension funds and local councils. It even operates DWP disability payment assessment systems and the London congestion charge system. The cyber attack against Capita in March and a separate data breach caused by human error in May left vast amounts of client data exposed. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was contacted by roughly 90 organisations. The ICO is encouraging organisations that use Capita to review their data to ensure they have not been affected. Firms are obligated to report breaches to the ICO within 72 hours after identification. Investigations are still ongoing and a retrieval process for lost or exposed data is underway. Capita estimates the debacle could cost £20 million.

7. DIDDY SUES DIAGEO FOR RACIAL DISCRIMINATION 

Spirit maker Diageo is being sued by rapper Sean Combs aka Diddy for racial discrimination. Combs claims that Diageo is failing to adequately support his drink brand, DeLeon Tequila, because he is black. The filing in the New York Court highlights that Diageo only distributes his brand in urban areas while investing heavily in competitor brands. DeLeon brands are sold in less than 4% of possible retailers. This is in stark contrast to Diageo’s other tequila brands which are sold in more than 30% of retailers. In addition to the discrimination lawsuit, Combs will request billions in damages for breach of contract regarding equal treatment. Diageo denies the allegations and will defend itself. Diageo’s brands include Guinness, Ciroc, Smirnoff and Dom Perignon. Combs has had a relationship with the company since 2007 and his DeLeon brand was bought in 2013. 

8. DISRUPTER CHAMBERS GETS £10M+ INVESTMENT 

Disrupter firm, The Barrister Group (TBG), has received  over £10 million in private equity investment from LDC. TBG seeks to reform the barristers chambers model offering a flexible remote system. On their platforms, instructing solicitors and prospective clients can quickly compare and select barristers. TBG includes the brand Clerksroom Chambers and Clerksroom Direct. For barristers, TBG gives them greater flexibility over the hours and locations they want as well as an alternative working model to traditional chambers. The investment will go to attracting more barristers and instructing solicitors to the service. For LDC, this is a bet on a legal technology pioneer that could start a revolution in the bar. 

9. TOYS ‘R’ US RETURNS

Toys ‘R’ Us is returning to our high streets, five years after its collapse. Nine concession stands will be opened in WH Smith stores. Toys ‘R’ Us struggled to keep up with the consumer shift to online shopping and had enormous overheads due to its large stores. It filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and shut all its stores in 2018. In 2022 however, it revived its brands and reopened an online store. Now, nine concessions will open in WH Smith stores across the UK to establish a leaner and more sustainable high street presence.

10. UK HOUSING MARKET 

The housing market is beginning to slow as the number of sales fell 32% in April compared to the same time last year. Sales also fell by 29% compared to March 2023. This is due to rising interest rates, the withdrawal of mortgage products by lenders and the end of the government’s Help To Buy Equity Loan Scheme. Over the past two weeks alone, around 10% of mortgage products have been pulled from the market. Lenders are unsure how high interest rates will go and are reviewing their offerings. As a result, House prices fell by 3.4% in May compared to the same time last year. This is the steepest decline since the financial crisis. The average cost of a UK home is now said to be £260,736.