Utah's Myriad Genetics settling gene patent lawsuits

Posted: February 5, 2015 at 5:41 am

The companies that have settled with Myriad continue to sell tests of the so-called BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene tests in competition with Myriad, according to their websites and spokespersons.

In addition, Myriad said that CEO and President Peter Meldrum has announced his retirement and will be replaced by Mark C. Capone, president of the company's largest wholly owned subsidiary, Myriad Genetic Laboratories Inc.

The company's shares fell 9 percent on Wednesday, the day after it announced lower earnings and reduced its financial forecast for the rest of its fiscal year.

In January, Myriad settled five lawsuits among seven, most of which it initiated after the companies announced they were entering the BRCA testing market with products of their own.

Those actions followed a June 2013 Supreme Court decision that held that parts of Myriad patents related to genetic material isolated from their location in the body are not eligible for patents. The decision stemmed from a lawsuit led by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that genes were not eligible for patents because they are products of nature, not human invention.

The month after the Supreme Court ruling, Myriad sued Ambry Genetics of Aliso Viejo, Calif., in federal court in Utah after it announced it was offering testing that competes with Myriad's. Myriad claimed that Ambry was infringing on its patents that remained intact after the ruling, while Ambry said the decision meant other Myriad patents also were invalid.

The Ambry suit was followed by those against other companies and by two actions filed by others against Myriad in other courts.

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby in March of last year denied Myriad's motion for a preliminary injunction against Ambry, ruling the Utah company was unlikely to prevail on patent claims that he ruled were based on genetic materials or processes that are not eligible for protection.

Shelby's decision was upheld in December by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. Myriad and Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings filed a stipulation for dismissal six days later and four others followed in short order.

A spokesman for Myriad said that the parties had agreed not to make public statements.

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Utah's Myriad Genetics settling gene patent lawsuits

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