GE pledges $200 millionfor efficient power grid

General Electric Co. said Tuesday that it will pledge $200 million to fund new research and development projects meant to create a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly power grid.

GE and four venture capital firms will solicit ideas from entrepreneurs, researchers and startups over the next 10 weeks. Awards from the competition will be announced in November.

The fund will focus on smart-grid technology designed to improve the nation’s energy network from the power plant to the home. That includes using alternative energies like wind power and developing new products that cut down on energy waste in houses.

Profits drop for owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC

The owner of the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC fast-food restaurant brands said that its second-quarter profit fell slightly because a one-time gain a year ago outpaced its revenue growth.

Yum Brands Inc. gave an upbeat forecast, citing ballooning growth in China, and raised its full-year outlook. But its shares fell in aftermarket trading when investors saw revenue was flat at Yum restaurants in the U.S. that have been open at least a year.

There were “some whisper expectations” of higher sales at established restaurants in China, said Larry Miller, a restaurant analyst with RBC Capital Markets. The market’s tepid reaction also might reflect disappointment in the company upgrading its full-year earnings projection by just 4 cents per share, from $2.39 to $2.43, he said.

Payment system firm sues EBay for patent infringement

Internet auction site EBay is being sued for $3.8 billion for allegedly infringing on patents held by XPRT Ventures LLC for its payment systems.

XPRT Ventures, which represents holders of the patents, on Tuesday sued eBay and its subsidiaries – PayPay Inc., Bill Me Later Inc., Shopping.com Inc. and StubHub Inc. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Delaware.

XPRT, based in Greenwich, Conn., accuses eBay of violating six patents that let shoppers make purchases online using alternative forms of payment instead of their credit cards, among other processes.

Plan unveiled for bringing medical records online

The Obama administration rolled out an ambitious five-year plan for moving doctors and hospitals to computerized medical records, promising greater safety for patients and lower costs.

Starting next year, doctors’ offices and hospitals can get federal money to help defray the costs of the systems, which can run to millions of dollars for hospitals.

Providers who don’t comply by 2015 will face cuts in Medicare payments.

Federal incentive payments for doctors and hospitals to buy computerized systems could reach $27 billion over 10 years, and that’s only a fraction of what technology vendors stand to take in.