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Tech News: Netflix, Inc Signs Largest Deal in Its History With DreamWorks Animation Skg Inc

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Plus, Telefonica denies a rumor of a $93 billion takeover attempt by AT&T.

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Bringing some of its most valuable properties into the streaming TV market, DreamWorks Animation Skg Inc (NASDAQ:DWA) has signed a multi-year deal with Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) to develop original shows based on films like Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda. According to Netflix, this marks "the largest deal for original first-run content in Netflix history."

Neither company announced specific details, but the shows will launch on the streaming platform sometime next year. The deal will significantly help Netflix recoup some of the children demographic it lost when the company's contract with Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAB) expired last month, taking offline shows like Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer, among other Nickelodeon shows. Once the Netflix deal expired, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) made quick business of acquiring streaming rights to Viacom properties.

Telefonica Denies Rumors of AT&T Takeover Bid

This morning, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that the Spanish government had thwarted at $93 billion offer that AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) made to the Spanish telecom company Telefonica S.A. (NYSE:TEF). The deal would have reportedly included Telefonica's € 52 billion in debt. El Mundo's report claimed that the Spanish government opposed the deal for national strategic reasons. The report spurred an uptick in Telefonica's stock price with today's gain as high as 3.9%.

In a very brief statement, the company denied the report, saying, "In relation to press rumors published today, Telefonica states that it has not received any approach, nor any indication of interest, neither verbal nor in written form, from any party."

AT&T has, as of yet, refused to comment.

Supreme Court Ruling on Gene Patenting May Be Huge Boon for Biotech Startups

After months of debate and a number of appeals, the Supreme Court reached a verdict in the case of Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, deciding unanimously that it is illegal to patent human genes. The case will have wide implications for biopharmaceutical diagnostic and drug companies, as nearly 20% of known human genes were previously protected by patents.

One of those companies, Myriad Genetics, Inc. (NASDAQ:MYGN) owned patents for BRCA1 and BRCA2 -- genes with a strong correlation to breast and ovarian cancers. The company offers a $3,000 test that determines the presence of the genes and the likelihood of cancer (Angelina Jolie made news last month for her protective mastectomy: she had it done becayse Myriad found she had the BRCA1 and 2 genes. See also: The Angelina Jolie Connection: The Debate Over Patenting Human Genes.)

The decision will accelerate growth in Biotech startups, companies that until Friday were unable to run tests for a good number of genes. As such costs will certainly drop for patients. For context, the cost of a full human genome sequencing has fallen from $100 million in 2011 to just $8,000 today.

The biggest holders of gene patents were major pharmaceutical companies like Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE:GSK), and DuPont (NYSE:DD).

Barnes & Noble's Nook Sees Another Price Drop

With rumors circulating that Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) will discontinue the Nook by the end of fiscal year 2014, major discounts for the e-reader are another potential nail in the coffin. For Father's Day, the bookseller discounted its 7-inch Nook HD from $129 to $70 and cut the price even more for its Nook HD+, form $269 to $149. Moreover, the company said today that the slashed prices will continue past Dad's Day, with no end date set.

Competition is fierce in the 7-inch-tablet market: Amazon's most basic Kindle fire goes for $159 and Google Inc's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus 7 for $199, though the latter starts with 16GB, compared to the 8GB of Kindle and Nook). On the high-end of the 7-inch market, the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad mini starts at $329.

Consumers and investors will likely learn more about the fate of Barnes & Noble's Nook department when the company reports second quarter earnings on June 25.

Skype Rolls Out New Visual Voicemail Feature

In February, Skype launched a beta version of a new video messaging features that allows users to film a message for a contact to view later. Today, the company has announced that is visual voicemail feature is now a full part of its application for Windows (NASDAQ:MSFT), Mac, iOS, Android, and Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY).

The company has been slow to integrate such technology, but was probably spurred on by the growing popularity of Twitter's Vine service, which allows users to record 6-second video clips.

Google's New Project Loon Will Use Balloons to Fill Global Internet Gaps

Developed in the forward-thinking X Lab at Google and launched this weekend, Project Loon is an experiment that will employ a fleet of networked balloons to fill Internet connectivity gaps throughout the world, eventually targeting rural and remote areas where a full two-thirds of the world's population live and work without the Internet.

For now, Google has launched 30 balloons from Christchurch, New Zealand. Each balloon is equipped with a solar power system, a back-up, rechargeable battery, a GPS system, and the ability to transmit Internet connectivity comparable to 3-G. The balloons are hovering just under 12.5 miles over the earth, which is about twice the altitude of commercial flights.

The current goal of the project is to work with algorithms and stratospheric wind and figure out how to keep one of the Loon balloons where it is supposed to be. The experimental program will likely launch in other countries on the same latitude as New Zealand, which would include potential launches in the Australian island of Tasmania to the West or Argentina to the East.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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