Daily Business Report-Dec. 3, 2015
Sequenom is headquartered in San Diego.
U.S. Court Rejects Sequenom Bid
To Restore Prenatal DNA Test Patent
A U.S. appeals court refused on Wednesday to reconsider its decision invalidating a Sequenom Inc. prenatal DNA test patent –a decision that could put in doubt the validity of a wide range of medical and biotechnology patents.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said in June the patent was not eligible for legal protection because it fell under the U.S. Supreme Court’s rule against patenting natural phenomena. That decision upheld a ruling by a lower federal court in California that cleared Roche Holding AG unit Ariosa Diagnostics of infringement.
Shares of San Diego-based Sequenom fell 9.5 percent to $1.62 on Wednesday. The company said in a statement it believed the ruling would have little business impact and vowed to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
Sequenom’s patent relates to the discovery of a way to detect fetal DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood to test for gender and genetic abnormalities, avoiding the risks of invasive medical techniques.
The June decision to cancel the patent, which acknowledged the test’s “valuable contribution to science,” was the latest to interpret two Supreme Court decisions from 2012 and 2013 that made it harder to obtain patents on naturally occurring substances and the tests used to detect them.
The company’s bid to restore its patent was being closely watched by the biotech industry, which feared more medically vital patents would be at risk if the court’s previous decision were not reversed. In court papers, Sequenom said it was an “existential threat” to patents and that investment in biomedical innovations would dry up.
Two of the 12 Federal Circuit judges who took part in a vote to deny rehearing appeared to agree with the concerns, saying the Supreme Court’s precedents prevented them from finding the patents were valid.
“It is said the whole category of diagnostic claims is at risk. It is also said that a crisis of patent law and medical innovation may be upon us, and there seems to be some truth in that concern,” Circuit Judge Alan Lourie wrote in an opinion on Wednesday.
In an interview, Ariosa attorney David Gindler praised the court’s refusal to reconsider the case, saying it had faithfully applied Supreme Court precedent and that its decision “does not pose a threat to the patent system or anything else.”
San Diegans Projected to Spend
$1,000 Each During Holidays
City News Service
San Diegans are projected to dig deep into their wallets this holiday season — spending an average of $1,063 each over the holidays — according to a WalletHub study released Wednesday.
San Diego ranked 129th out of 563 U.S. cities for the maximum holiday budget per person. Palo Alto rang in at No. 1, with an average holiday budget of $2,886 per person. Carlsbad ranked 26th on the list with residents spending $1,673 each, while Chula Vista was further down the list at 403 with $694 per person.
Cities were compared across five metrics including income, age, debt-to- income ratio, monthly income-to-monthly expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly expenses ratio.
More than one third of consumers are expected to exceed their holiday spending budget, according to WalletHub.
According to SANDAG Chief Economist Ray Major, each county resident will spend on average $1,600 on food and retail purchases in December, with $900 spent by adults on holiday gifts — a 20 percent increase in spending compared to other months.
Around 30,000 seasonal jobs are expected to be created throughout the county, with $32 million earned by those seasonal workers during the holidays, according to Major.
More than 1.1 million tourists are expected to flock to San Diego during the holidays — enough to fill Qualcomm Stadium 16 times. Around 730,000 of those visitors will come from Mexico to shop in San Diego and visit family and friends, Major said. More than 90 percent of visitors are expected to travel to San Diego by car, racking up 104 million miles while traveling to the region.
Holiday spending this year will be the highest ever recorded, according to the National Retail Federation, with the average person spending $805.65, up from $802.45 in 2014.
Proposed Changes to County Wine Ordinance
Could Change Meaning of ‘Local’ Wine
Los Angeles Times
The county Board of Supervisors is considering amendments to its 2010 wine ordinance that could more strictly define what is and what isn’t a San Diego wine and reshape the county’s young but quickly expanding wine industry.
The 2010 ordinance made it possible for small businesses in unincorporated areas of the county to turn grapes into wine, offer wine tastings and sell the product by the bottle.
By one measure, the 2010 ordinance was successful; it eliminated the need for most wineries to get a major use permit, cutting one startup cost alone by an estimated $250,000. With this financial hurdle gone, the county saw quick growth in its wine industry, particularly in the Ramona area where the number of boutique wineries — small businesses that make fewer than 12,000 gallons of wine per year — exploded from two to approximately 30 in five years.
Despite this expansion, some of the ordinance’s biggest proponents are concerned how the winemaking industry interpreted the groundbreaking law.
“We gave birth to this child, this winery ordinance, and we have some growing pains that need to be dealt with,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said.
Capstone Advisors Acquires Carlsbad
Retail Property for $11.8 Million
Carlsbad-based Capstone Advisors has acquired a property in its own backyard with the purchase of The Island @ Carlsbad.
The 39,992-square-foot retail center was purchased from Berdan Holdings LLC for $11.8 million.
Located on the southwest corner of College Boulevard and Faraday Avenue at 5806-5814 Van Allen Way, the property sits on the most heavily traveled intersection in the Carlsbad Research Center. The Center is one of San Diego County’s master-planned office and industrial developments, and includes regional employers such as Thermo Fisher, Genoptix Inc., TaylorMade, SKLZ, Callaway, Abbott, Isis Pharmaceuticals and Capstone Advisors.
Capstone Advisors plans to improve the property’s overall appeal by repainting, upgrading landscaping, instituting a new and comprehensive signage and graphics program, and making improvements to the food court’s seating area. The company said it hopes to create a contemporary space that can be an asset for the surrounding community.
The property is currently 71 percent leased and consists of one freestanding restaurant, two multi-tenant “food court” buildings and one two-story commercial building. Notable tenants include Hacienda de Vega Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, Cabrillo Credit Union, Carlsbad Dental Associates and Express Employment Professionals.
Navy and Northrop Complete
Fire Scout Operational Tests
Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy concluded a series of operational assessments on a company-built MQ-8C Fire Scout autonomous helicopter last month.
The company said Tuesday its MQ-8C recorded 83.4 flight hours and collected about 72 data points in real time during OA flight test performed by the Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX-1) over a three-week period.
Navy and Northrop personnel have also evaluated the performance of the helicopter’s sensors, ice detection technology and other ISR systems at multiple altitudes and ranges.
“MQ-8C is meeting or exceeding its performance objectives and will deliver greater warfighting capabilities to the fleet in the future,” Capt. Jeff Dodge, Fire Scout program manager at the Naval Air Systems Command, said in a statement released Monday.
Northrop designed the unmanned helicopter to soar up to 150 nautical miles, lift a more than 700-pound payload and help military users identify targets at sea and on land.
The platform is slated to undergo a milestone C evaluation in 2016 and ship-based tests by fiscal 2017.
San Diego Naval Officer Takes
Command of USS Kearsarge
MANAMA, Bahrain — Capt. Larry Getz of San Diego has relieved Capt. David L. Bossert as commanding officer of the USS Kearsarge in ceremonies Nov. 25.
Getz spoke of his confidence for the future and pride in taking command of the amphibious assault ship. “We are a great ship because we communicate across our warfare areas and we look out for each other,” said Getz. “I truly consider us a family.”
Getz first joined the Kearsarge team in March 2014 as the ship’s executive officer. His previous sea duty assignments consist of the “Black Knights” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7, the “Dragonslayers” of HS-11, and the executive and commanding officer of the HS-15 “Red Lions.” His shore duty assignments consist of the Navy Legislative Affairs Office, HS-10, the Bureau of Naval Personnel and junior military aide to the Secretary of Defense for Secretaries Gates, Panetta and Hagel.
Bossert arrived aboard Kearsarge in December 2012 serving as the ship’s executive officer. He took command of the ship in May 2014.
The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group comprised of the flagship Kearsarge, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hilland the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.