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This past Monday, the CRISPR patent battle lasted for 4 years finally came to an end.
The patent battle:
- In 2012, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle from UC Berkeley first filled patents on using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in small organisms, like bacteria.
- In 2014, two years later, while the UC Berkeley patent application was pending, Feng Zhang’s team at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard filled a rushed patent on using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in more complex cells, which was approved in 2017.
- The UC Berkeley team then filled appeals to invalidate the Broad patent.
- In 2017, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board voted that the Broad application is unique enough for its own patent.
- On 2018, Sep. 10th, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed to uphold the patent filed by the Broad Institute on CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in organisms with complex cells. Judge Kimberly Moore wrote that "The Board’s underlying factual findings are supported by substantial evidence and the Board did not err… We have considered UC’s remaining arguments and find them unpersuasive."
- Even though UC Berkeley team can appeal this decision to the US Supreme Court, it is unclear whether the Supreme Court will accept this case.
Since the Broad patent covers the usage of CRISPR technology in editing eukaryotes, including plants and animals, thus it is closely related to a wide range of potential CRISPR/Cas9 products. Many biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are investing millions of dollars into CRISPR engineered products, from crops to cell therapies. Therefore, this patent battle is particular important for not only the UC Berkeley and Broad Institute, but also many CRISPR researchers.
Now the battle is finally settled. For researchers looking to commercialize any product engineered using CRISPR/Cas9 technology, it is more clear to know which institute to seek the license from. In the near future, it is very likely that more advanced CRISPR technology will be invented and patented, thus more patent battles might be coming.
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