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Cities around US offer billions in tax breaks to be Amazon’s HQ2

Enlarge / Amazon's campus in South Lake Union, Seattle. (credit: Joel Rogers / Getty Images)

Cities around the country are pulling out all the stops to entice Amazon to set up its second headquarters in their area.

The online retail giant is taking proposals from around North America, and today's the deadline. Some of the proposals include massive tax breaks, while other cities are trying out humorous gimmicks to get the company's attention.

New Jersey has offered the biggest tax incentives, consisting of up to $7 billion in state and local tax rebates if Amazon locates in Newark and hires the 50,000 workers it has said it would. The company has also promised $5 billion in spending on construction of the headquarters. The New Jersey offer, announced Monday, is $2 billion more than what Republican Governor Chris Christie and the Democratic-led New Jersey legislature agreed to last month.

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Native American tribe sues Amazon and Microsoft over patents

Enlarge (credit: St. Regis Mohawk Tribe / Aurich Lawson)

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has filed patent lawsuits against Amazon and Microsoft, using patents it acquired from a company called SRC Labs, according to reports in Reuters and CNBC.

Until recently, the patents were owned by a holding company called SRC Labs, which is a co-plaintiff in today's lawsuit. The lawsuits against Amazon and Microsoft are the second and third lawsuits filed by patent-holding companies working together with Native American tribes. Patent-holding companies, sometimes derided in the tech industry as "patent trolls," produce no goods or services and make their revenue from filing lawsuits.

At least two patent-holding companies have chosen to give their patents to Native American tribes, seeking to benefit from tribal "sovereign immunity" that could avoid certain types of patent reviews at the US Patent Office.

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Here’s how much the average Amazon Prime member spends on the site in a year

How much do Amazon Prime members spend

As Amazon Prime membership continues to grow, the site itself is reaping the benefits. On Wednesday, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) released the results of a study which show that 90 million US consumers are now Prime members. On average, those members are spending nearly $1,300 a year, while non-Prime shoppers are spending $700 in a year. According to the study though, 63% of Amazon customers are Prime members.

“Amazon Prime membership continued its steady growth as in recent quarters,” said CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz. “Membership grew 6% in the most recent quarter, the same rate as in the June 2017 quarter, and better than the 3% in the year-ago September 2016 quarter. Over the past twelve months, Prime grew by 38%, the same growth rate as in the same twelve-month period the year before, from October 2015 to September 2016.”

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Due to legal settlement, Amazon customers now get a few extra bucks

Enlarge (credit: Cyrus Farivar)

On Wednesday, Amazon sent out another installment of payments relating to its “Apple eBooks Antitrust Settlement”—except this time, it was to settle related lawsuits brought by a group of state-level attorneys general.

In 2014, Amazon paid out based on settlements with book publishers—including Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster—which allegedly conspired with Apple to fix e-book prices in 2012.

As Ars reported previously, the case began way back in 2012, when Apple and five publishers (Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan) were sued by the Department of Justice and 33 states’ attorney general offices for conspiring to offer e-books at a higher price than Amazon’s loss-leading $9.99. The publishers all eventually settled for a total of $166 million to states and consumers, but Apple held out and eventually lost a judgement in Manhattan district court.

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Amazon Sending New Round of Credits to E-Book Buyers as Part of Apple Price Fixing Settlement

Customers who purchased a Kindle e-book between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 may be receiving a credit from Amazon this morning as the retailer continues distributing funds from an antitrust lawsuit levied against Apple back in 2013 by the United States Justice Department.

Emails were sent out to eligible customers in the United States this morning, and Amazon has also set up a website that will list available credits for those who are eligible for a refund.

Apple, along with five other publishers including HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, and Penguin, was found guilty of conspiring to inflate the prices of e-books to weaken Amazon's dominant position in the market. While the five publishers settled, Apple held out and appealed several times, but was ultimately ordered to pay a total of $450 million.

Apple maintained its innocence throughout the initial trial and appeals, and has argued that its deals with publishers introduced competition to a market that was largely controlled by Amazon. The United States Justice Department did not see it that way, though, as Apple's efforts ultimately raised prices for consumers.


Several rounds of refunds have already been distributed as a result of the lawsuit. In 2014, customers received refunds funded by publishers, and in 2016, refunds totaling $400 million, or the bulk of the money paid by Apple, were sent out. This new round of refunds has also been funded by Apple's settlement and comes from $20 million that was earmarked to pay states that were involved in the lawsuit.

Credits sent out today will last for six months and will need to be spent by April 20, 2018.

Update: Customers are also receiving notices about available Apple credits that are also being distributed today. Credits are being added to Apple accounts automatically and can be used in iBooks, iTunes, and the App Store.


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