Thousands of patents on human genes looked a little shakier after a recent landmark victory by the American Civil Liberties Union’s senior national staff counsel Christopher Hansen. Last year, representing several medical organizations and patients, Hansen sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Myriad Genetics, Inc., in federal district court in Manhattan, seeking to overturn the patents that the biopharmaceutical company holds on two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. At a summary judgment hearing in February, Hansen argued that the Myriad patents are invalid because genes are products of nature. Although the defendants argued that the process of isolating the genes changes them and makes them patentable, Judge Robert Sweet agreed with Hansen, the first time that a court has found that genes cannot be patented. The defendants are appealing.


Call him Mr. Power. Michael Rogan of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has advised on three huge deals in the red-hot energy sector since November. First he steered Electricité de France in its $4.5 billion bid for a stake in Constellation Energy Group, Inc.’s nuclear business, thwarting a rival offer by a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. unit. In February he advised Allegheny Energy, Inc., in its $4.7 billion acquisition by FirstEnergy Corp. Finally, in April, he counseled RRI Energy, Inc., in its $1.6 billion union with Mirant Corporation. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand” in the sector, says Rogan. “And now there’s financing available.”