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
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
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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