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Human Genes Cannot Be Patented

Human Genes Cannot Be Patented Human Genes Cannot Be Patented

Lab-created molecules are patent-eligible under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling and on Thursday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that human genes cannot be patented however, the court approved the synthetic version of the gene material may be patented. Supreme Justices said, a naturally occurring piece of DNA is “a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.” The biotechnology industry warned that a ruling against Myriad Genetics would threaten billions of dollars in investment.

Myriad Genetics (MYGN) was the center of the case since they were granted patents for isolating two human genes - BRCA1 and BRCA2 - that indicate a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad markets tests for the genes. Myriad before the ruling said they only wanted to patent the molecules of DNA that it creates in the lab to test patients and determine their cancer risks. Since the late 1990's, Myriad has tested more than 1 million women for mutations that often lead to breast and ovarian cancer. Stunning actress Angelina Jolie carried the gene BRCA1 and after the test that she was at higher risk of developing breast cancer, chose to have a double mastectomy. The cost of the test include $3,340 for the breast cancer analysis plus $700 for an additional test that picks up a genetic link in nearly 10% of women who test negative during their first test. Shares of Myriad were 11% higher into early afternoon trading on Thursday.

The court and opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas said that while Myriad had found something important and useful ruled that “groundbreaking, innovative or even brilliant discovery” does not by itself guarantee a patent. Justice Elena Kagan said, “What does Myriad get out of this deal? Why shouldn’t we worry that Myriad or companies like it will just say, well, you know, we’re not going to do this work anymore?"

Over 4,000 human genes have already been granted patents by the U.S. government, mostly to firms and universities. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted more than 40,000 patents tied to genetic material since 1984.

Mary-Claire King, the geneticist who in 1990 discovered the abnormality on chromosome 17 that proved to be the so-called breast cancer gene said, "It is splendid news for patients, for physicians, for scientists and for common sense. The marketplace will now be open."

Revlon Fined...
Revlon Inc. (REV: NYSE) has been fined $850,000 by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly misleading shareholders during a going-private transaction. Allegedly per the SEC, Revlon deprived its independent board members from knowing that the transaction's consideration had been deemed inadequate by a third party. Associate director in the SEC's enforcement division, Antonia Chion said that by erecting informational barriers, Revlon kept critically important information from its board and in turn, misled investors. Reportedly in 2009 when Revlon's majority shareholder MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings Inc, controlled by billionaire Ronald Perelman, asked Revlon to give minority shareholders a chance to tender their common shares for preferred stock, as part of a plan to pay down Revlon debt. An outside adviser hired by trustee for Revlon's 401(k) retirement plan concluded that the swap was not fair to tendering shareholders, per reports from SEC. Also per the SEC, Revlon reportedly took steps to conceal the adviser's opinion from its independent directors and 401(k) participants, the result was a series of materially misleading disclosures to shareholders, including that the board had properly reviewed the tender offer.

UK Corporate Tax...
A U.K. parliamentary committee made up of lawmakers from the U.K.’s main political parties said Thursday that Google Inc. (GOOG: NASDAQ) has aggressively avoided paying corporation tax in Britain. Just last month, the U.K. committee grilled Matt Brittin, one of Google's top executives in Europe for two hours. A Google spokesperson said the company complies with all tax rules in the U.K and said, “It’s clear from this report that the public accounts committee wants to see international companies paying more tax where their customers are located, but that’s not how the rules operate today. We welcome the call to make the current system simpler and more transparent.”

In the latest sign that governments around the world are stepping up scrutiny of the tax affairs of multinational firms, U.K. said Google's reputation will not be restored until the Internet search giant begins to pay, what is due. The public affairs committee criticized the U.K. tax authority - Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs - in a 64-page report containing strong words, for failing to challenge Google about its “highly contrived” tax arrangement and called on it to fully investigate the Internet giant.

The committee said tax avoidance by multinational firms was evident of wider problems and urged the U.K. government to strengthen HMRC. The committee also request a simplification of the tax code to reduce loopholes firms exploit. Main accounting firms were criticized for helping clients utilize loopholes to establish artificial tax structures.

Imports and Exports...
The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday that prices paid for imported goods fell 0.6% during May, striking the third month of declines, led lower by fuel which fell 1.9%. Excluding fuel, import prices fell by 0.3% during May to mark the largest drop since July 2012. Import prices declined 1.9% over the past 12 months. The price of U.S. made exported goods fell 0.5% during May, led by nonagricultural prices. Export prices fell 0.9% over the past 12 months.

Jobless Claims...
U.S. Department of Labor reported the number of people who applied for new regular state unemployment-insurance benefits for week ended June 8, fell 12,000 to 334,000, reaching the lowest level since early May, pointing to a slower pace of layoffs. Over four weeks, average new claims fell by 7,250 to 345,250. Continuing claims moved higher by 2,000 to 2.97 million with the four-week average of continuing claims falling 12,750 to 2.97 million, striking the lowest level since April 2008.

Retail Sales...
U.S. Commerce Department announced Thursday that U.S. retail sales, which account for nearly one-third of consumer spending, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in May at the fastest rate in three months or when exclude the auto sector sales rose by 0.3%. Excluding fuel sales at gasoline stations, retail sales were up 0.6%. Commerce saw a rise in sales for auto dealers, grocery stores, Internet retailers and suppliers of building materials. Commerce saw a decline in sales for appliances, bars, clothes, electronics, home furnishings and restaurants.

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June 13, 2013

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