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Lawsuit claims Walmart stole technology to keep produce fresh

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Walmart Inc was sued on Wednesday by a Silicon Valley company that accused the largest U.S. retailer of stealing its technology to prolong the shelf life of produce and reduce spoilage.

In its $2 billion complaint, Zest Labs and its parent said Walmart’s “Eden” technology to preserve fruit and vegetable freshness “looks, sounds, and functions” like its own Zest Fresh technology.

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Zest said it had worked with Walmart for years on Zest Fresh before the retailer lost interest last November.

It said it was “stunned” in March when Walmart claimed to have developed Eden internally over six months through a “hackathon” among its own engineers, and that it had prevented $86 million of waste so far.

“In reality, Walmart used its years of unfettered access to plaintiffs’ trade secrets, proprietary information, and know-how to steal the Zest Fresh technology and misappropriate it for Walmart’s own benefit,” the complaint said.

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said “we respect the intellectual property rights of others,” and will respond to the complaint in court.

Zest said Walmart has estimated $2 billion of savings over five years from Eden, and said the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer could save $15 billion over a decade.

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Its lawsuit seeks to recover such savings for Walmart’s alleged theft of trade secrets, unfair competition, breach of contract and other wrongdoing.

Walmart is one of the largest U.S. grocery sellers, and has been exploring new means to expand sales and market share, including in home delivery following Amazon.com Inc’s  purchase of Whole Foods last year.

Zest Labs is based in San Jose, California, and filed its lawsuit with the federal court in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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The case is Zest Labs Inc et al v Walmart Inc, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, No. 18-00500.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York


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Hong Kong marks Tiananmen crackdown as anthem insults and vigil banned

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Hong Kong marked China's deadly Tiananmen crackdown on Thursday, with candle-light ceremonies planned across the city after authorities banned a mass vigil at a time of seething anger over a planned new security law.

The commemorations fell on another febrile day of political tension in the semi-autonomous city as lawmakers approved a Beijing-backed bill criminalizing insults to China's national anthem.

Pro-democracy politicians refused to cast their ballots with one throwing a foul-smelling liquid on the floor in a bid to halt proceedings and others shouting slogans as the votes were cast.

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Fury as New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees criticizes NFL kneeling protests

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees sparked a furious backlash as he refused to support renewed NFL kneeling protests on Wednesday, saying to do so would be "disrespecting" the United States flag.

As a wave of demonstrations against police brutality and racism sweeps across the US, many athletes have voiced support for former NFL star Colin Kaepernick, who ignited controversy in 2016 by kneeling during the US national anthem.

Former San Francisco 49ers star Kaepernick, who said he was trying to draw attention to racial injustice, was later frozen out of the league and has been unemployed since being released in 2017.

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Trump’s Mar-a-Lago buddy used his ‘shadow’ sway over the VA to promote his Marvel comic book empire

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Two and a half years ago, top officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange. Standing on the podium with them was a cheering, flexing Captain America. Spider-Man waved from the trading floor below.

The event had been billed as a suicide prevention awareness campaign. No one could figure out what the Marvel characters were doing there. David Shulkin, the VA secretary at the time, said in a memoir about his tenure that he was as surprised as anyone.

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