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IKEA, Lisa Ling makeover education facility affected by Sandy

BY HBSDEALER Staff

IKEA joined with journalist and television host Lisa Ling to mark its third annual Life Improvement Project with a $50,000 donation to Save the Children’s early education programs. 

In addition to the donation, IKEA provided home furnishings, design advice and manpower to help make over a Family Head Start/Early Learn location in Brooklyn, N.Y., a Save the Children-supported facility which was affected by Hurricane Sandy.

“The people who participated in the ‘Life Improvement Project’ made a direct impact on children in need,” said Lisa Allen, IKEA Life Improvement Project Leader. “We’re pleased to have been able to partner with Save the Children to extend life improvement into the many places we collectively call home — including our local communities.”

Ling, a Life Improvement Project ambassador, was present at the facility and helped Ikea unveil the new space. “I’m thrilled to have been part of this program which helped inspire consumers to make a positive impact on their homes and communities,” she said. “As a new mom myself, I’m happy Ikea is able to help children at this Sandy-affected facility and also kids all around the country.”

Save the Children is a leading, independent organization that strives to create lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world.

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NRF responds to FTC investigation of patent trolls

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The National Retail Federation welcomed today’s announcement that the Federal Trade Commission plans to investigate patent trolls.

“Patent trolls are a drain on the economy,” NRF SVP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “It’s time for Washington to put an end to this abuse of our nation’s laws. Seeing this issue receive top-level attention from the FTC is a significant development.”

FTC chair Edith Ramirez announced the investigation, which must be approved by the full commission, during a speech before the American Antitrust Institute and the Computer and Communications Industry Association in Washington. The probe would look into a variety of issues, and results would be available for use by Congress, the courts and federal agencies. 

The move comes just more than two weeks after the White House announced a series of executive actions and legislative recommendations intended to crack down on frivolous lawsuits filed or threatened by patent trolls. At least half a dozen members of Congress have proposed legislation on the issue.

NRF, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association today sent a letter to Ramirez urging the commission to thoroughly examine the issue.

“Valuable resources are being extracted from end users that could be used to invest in business, create jobs and contribute to the growth of the economy, and instead are going to fight or settle frivolous infringement claims,” the letter said.

Patent trolls are firms that buy old, obscure patents from inventors, and then make millions by threatening to sue companies that use the technology involved unless they pay a licensing fee. Retailers are among the most frequent targets thanks to the industry’s increasing use of cutting-edge innovations, especially in online and mobile retailing.

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PRO Group conference met with enthusiasm

BY HBSDealer Staff

Distributors and manufacturers convened at this year’s Group Merchandising Conference, held June 17-19 at the Embassy Suites Atlanta/Centennial Olympic Park.

With attendance hovering around 150, PRO Group and Val-Test distributors met with manufacturers during 962 private 30-minute appointments aimed at strengthening relationships and previewing new products.

According to Steve Synnott, CEO and owner of PRO Group, one-third of manufacturers at the conference were first-time attendees, a promising sign for sales and two-step distribution.

"This conference is more informal than many of the conferences we attend, and it affords us more direct interaction that is vendor-oriented and item-oriented," said Michael Brady, director of purchasing for Long-Lewis Hardware Co. "We also meet with vendors we may have never even heard of before."

To cap off the event, PRO Group informally celebrated its 60th anniversary at the conference, though the official celebration will take place in August with a nationwide circular event.

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