- - Tuesday, October 2, 2012

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge Tuesday dismissed claims by BP fuel stations and convenience stores that the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico diminished the value of the oil giant’s brand and cost them business.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s ruling says the dealers’ claims against BP PLC aren’t viable under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, general maritime law or state law.

Thomas P. Bleau, a lawyer for BP dealers Tobatex Inc. and MRM Energy Inc., argued during a hearing last month that consumer animosity and bungling by BP corporate executives after the nation’s worst offshore spill severely damaged the company’s brand name. Switching brands wasn’t an option for the dealers because many are locked into long-term contracts, he told Judge Barbier.

The judge’s ruling, however, says the BP dealers’ allegations “do not state a claim for which relief may be granted.”

TECHNOLOGY

Ban lifted on sales of Samsung tablet

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A federal judge has lifted a ban on sales of Samsung Electronics Corp.’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled Monday the South Korean technology giant is now free to start selling the product in American stores.

The judge previously banned U.S. sales of the tablet pending the resolution of a sweeping patent trial between Apple Inc. and Samsung over vital technology used in smartphones and tablet computers.

A jury in September ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1 billion after finding many of Samsung’s products illegally used technology developed by Apple for its iPhones and iPads. But the jury found that Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 wasn’t one of the offending products.

CELLPHONES

T-Mobile in talks to buy MetroPCS

NEW YORK — The parent of cellphone company T-Mobile USA on Tuesday said it’s in talks to buy smaller MetroPCS Communications Inc., a deal that could shore up two struggling smaller players in the U.S. wireless industry.

Deutsche Telekom AG, the German company that owns T-Mobile USA, said “significant issues have not yet been finalized” and no decision has been made on a deal.

T-Mobile USA is the country’s fourth-largest cellphone company, with 33.2 million subscribers. Adding the 9.3 million subscribers of Dallas-based MetroPCS, the industry’s No. 5, would still leave T-Mobile trailing No. 3 Sprint Nextel Corp.

From wire dispatches and staff reports