UC Berkeley Appeals CRISPR Case Loss, Wins Big with EPO

Apr 27, 2017

GeneticEngineering.jpgThe European Patent Office (EPO) recently announced its intent to grant the University of California a broad patent for its CRISPR-Cas9 technology.

T
he CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technique has been a hot topic for patent people everywhere ever since Jennifer Doudna of U.C. Berkeley, in collaboration with Emmanuelle Charpentier of the University of Vienna, and Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard both filed a patent covering numerous uses for the technology back in 2012.  Zhang's application was approved first, granting him the first patent covering the CRISPR technology, despite claims that Doudna and Charpentier had demonstrated the applications of CRISPR as an editing tool in bacterial cell cultures long before Zhang's patent.

These claims were eventually brought before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which determined that the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology in human cells as described in patents filed by Zhang and his team was separate from the general use of that same technology in any cell type as Doudna and her team at UC Berkeley claimed with their patent applications.  The PTAB decision, in short, concluded that the  inventions claimed in the patents filed by both parties were distinct and did not overlap, therefore each will retain the right to license their own patents to any third party. 

Now, the EPO has announced that it will issue a broad patent covering the technology to U.C. Berkeley with claims covering all cell types, setting a precedent as Doudna and Charpentier seek patent protection in other countries.  In addition, the University of California (with the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier) has filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington to overturn the PTAB's  previous ruling of "no interference." 

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