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Ad sales start-up wins pitch contest; other business briefs

Long Island

Start-up pitch-contest winner

An advertising sales platform, Sales & Orders Ads, won favor from judges and the audience at a start-up pitch competition Monday night. Five early-stage companies pitched their ideas at the event, held at LaunchPad Long Island, a business incubator space in Mineola. Participants had 10 minutes each to pitch their ideas and then took questions. The winner was determined by scores from both the judges and the audience. Sales & Orders Ads, based in Hicksville, provides a platform for companies to evaluate the returns for online advertising. As the night's winner, the company received a monthly pass to work at LaunchPad. The four other start-ups were a mobile app for retailers, a piano lesson system, a motivational teaching-kit business and a business education agency. -- Lisa Du


Flex delivery service for FedEx

FedEx will let recipients leave detailed instructions for their driver or reschedule a delivery to their home. FedEx Corp. said Tuesday it will charge $5 to reschedule the delivery day or location and $10 to request a two-hour delivery window. Other services are free, including putting a 14-day vacation hold on deliveries or making a request such as "Please leave the package at the back door." Raj Subramaniam, a marketing executive for the company, said the FedEx Delivery Manager service was inspired by the boom in online shopping. Customers can sign up -- that's free -- on the FedEx website to be notified of pending deliveries by email, text or phone.

Keyboard BlackBerry on the way

The maker of the BlackBerry expects a new version of the phone with a physical keyboard will be available in the United States by the end of May. Research In Motion Ltd. said Tuesday all four major U.S. carriers will carry the Q10. A delay in selling the new keyboard BlackBerry has complicated RIM's efforts to hang on to customers attracted by Apple's iPhone and devices running Google's Android system. The BlackBerry has fallen behind rivals, but many users have stayed loyal because they prefer a physical keyboard over the touch screen on the iPhone and most Android devices.

Suit cites Novartis kickbacks

The U.S. government has sued Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. in New York, claiming it gave kickbacks to pharmacies to switch transplant patients from competitors' drugs to its own. The civil health care fraud lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan. It seeks unspecified damages and civil penalties. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says the company used the "lure of kickbacks disguised as rebates" to turn certain pharmacists into salespeople for one of its drugs. He says the company's actions caused the public to pay tens of millions of dollars for kickback-tainted drugs dispensed by pharmacists. Bharara says Novartis is a repeat offender, having settled fraud charges based on kickbacks less than three years ago. Novartis says it disputes the claims and will defend itself.


SEC pressed on Lauren probe

Argentina wants the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to name names and provide proof that Ralph Lauren Corp. bribed customs officials for years to allow its products into the South American country. Tax chief Ricardo Echegaray came out swinging Tuesday after the U.S. government announced the designer label had cooperated with authorities and paid a fine of nearly $1.6 million after admitting that its now-closed Argentine subsidiary violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Echegaray blamed private customs brokers and former Ralph Lauren executives for any violations, and he demanded the SEC identify which Argentine officials allegedly took the bribes, which the SEC said totaled nearly $600,000 over four years.-- AP

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