U.S. chief justice steps aside in patent case over stock conflict

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By Lawrence Hurley | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts will
no longer participate in a patent dispute at the Supreme Court
involving a unit of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc after
he realized he owns about $175,000 of stock in the company, the
court said on Wednesday.

The eight-justice court is weighing whether genetic-testing
kits made by Thermo Fisher-owned Life Technologies Corp
infringed upon patents held by Promega Corp.

In a letter issued on Wednesday, Scott Harris, the clerk of
the court, said Roberts belatedly learned that Life Technologies
was owned by Thermo Fisher. The letter noted that “the ordinary
conflict check conducted in the chief justice’s chamber’s
inadvertently failed to find this potential conflict.”

Roberts will therefore step aside, meaning only seven of the
court’s eight justices will decide the case, which was argued on
Dec. 6.

Roberts’ 1,212 shares are worth around $175,000 based on the
current share price of around $145.

Supreme Court justices routinely recuse themselves in cases
involving companies in which they own stocks.



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