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2017 in Review: Part One

2018 is just days away, and as we count down to the end of the year, we thought it would be fun to look back at all that’s happened this past year.  
In January, CES celebrated its 50th anniversary in Las Vegas, debuting its largest show floor ever with more than 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space and over 3,800 participating companies.  Consumers, industry leaders and techies attended from all over the world, getting a sneak peak of some of the most unique future tech out there, like the Faraday Future FF91 Electric Car and Sony’s E-ink Watch.
In February, we checked in with a number of patent litigation cases, including’s $12.5 million settlement with DNA Genotek Inc.  The popular genealogy website was accused of infringing on Genotek’s patents with its saliva DNA collection kits, allegedly breaching a non-disclosure agreement between the two companies.  Luckily, the two were able to put their differences aside and come to a seemingly fair licensing agreement.
We also caught up with the CRISPR-Cas9 case in March, after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ruled that the inventions claimed in the patents filed by both parties (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) were distinct and did not overlap.   In 2012, both filed a patent covering numerous uses for the CRISPR technology. Though Doudna and Charpentier are first credited with demonstrating the applications of CRISPR as an editing tool in bacterial cell cultures, Zhang’s patent application was approved faster, granting him the first patent covering the technology.  Following PTAB’s ruling, however, each will retain the right to license their own patents to any third party. 
In April, the University of California (with the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier) came to the decision to file an appeal to overturn this ruling of “no interference.” 
In May, the Supreme Court delivered its unanimous ruling in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Group Brands LLC.  The case raised important questions regarding patent venues after Kraft sued TC Heartland in Delaware back in 2014 for the alleged infringement of its patents related to “liquid water enhancers.”  Despite the fact that Heartland “is not registered to do business in Delaware, has no local presence in Delaware, has not entered into any supply contracts in Delaware or called on any accounts there to solicit sales,” the District of Delaware claimed that it had personal jurisdiction over the case, denying Heartland’s motion for a change of venue. 

he Supreme Court’s decision, however, placed strict limitations on where patent lawsuits can be filed, stating that patent owners can only bring lawsuits in states where the companies they are suing are incorporated. 
In June, we learned that ASU ranked in the top 30 university patents in 2016, according to a report published by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), with the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO).   The report of the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2016, now in its fifth year of publication, helps demonstrate the importance of patents when it comes to making advances in university research, technology and innovation.  In 2016, ASU celebrated a record-breaking year in patents, and has seen a significant increase in invention disclosures while ushering in a new wave of creative student programs since.