MilliporeSigma Granted European CRISPR Patent

Alex Philippidis, GEN News Highlights, 07 August 2017,

The European Patent Office has issued a “Notice of Intention to Grant” to MilliporeSigma for CRISPR technology consisting of claims related to single guide gene editing in both cellular and non-cellular systems, including human and mammalian cells, in addition to claims related to therapeutic treatment of a patient.  By issuing this patent the European patent landscape is on its way to becoming as complicated as that of the US.

Cellectis Wins CRISPR Patent in Europe

Jonathan Wosen, GEN News Highlights, 25 July 2017,

French biotech company Cellectis has been granted a European patent to use CRISPR in T cells valid until 2034.  Cellectis hopes to use this technology to edit T cells for cancer therapy. While other companies are pursuing similar treatments, Cellectis hopes to develop a universal CAR-T cell line that can be widely used without tailoring treatment to individuals.

Intellia Therapeutics Wins China CRISPR Patent

GEN News Highlights, 19 June 2017,

Intellia Therapeutics, founded by Jennifer Doudna, has been awarded a broad patent for the CRISPR/Cas9 single guide gene editing system.  Intellia has licensed the CRISPR technology developed by Jennifer Doudna at the University of California-Berkeley. This latest announcement comes on the tails of the European Patent Office’s announcement favoring UC-Berkeley as well.

DuPont Pioneer Acquires Exclusive CRISPR License

GenomeWeb, 27 June 2017,

ERS Genomics, founded to commercialize the intellectual property of Emmanuelle Charpentier, has granted an exclusive license to DuPont Pioneer covering CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technologies for all plant and agricultural applications.  The details of the agreement were not disclosed.

University of California Appeals CRISPR Patent Decision

Sharon Begley, 13 April 2017, STAT News,

UC-Berkeley has filed an appeal with the federal Court of Appeals.  UC-Berkeley was joined in its appeal by the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier.  Previously, the US Patent office had ruled that UC-Berkeley’s and the Broad Institute’s patents did not interfere, leaving them both able to pursue unique patents.  In this appeal, UC-Berkeley hopes to establish that the teams led by Doudna and Charpentier were the first to engineer CRISPR/Cas9 in all cell types.

UC-Berkeley Awarded CRISPR Patents in Europe

Jef Akst, The Scientist, 24 March 2017,

The European patent office has announced its intention to award broad CRISPR patents to the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Vienna.  The awarded patents will cover the use of the CRISPR technology in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells/organisms, contrasting with the US patent office which denied UC-Berkeley the rights to eukaryotic cells.

Broad Institute prevails over UC-Berkeley in patent battle

Heidi Ledford, Nature News, 15 February 2017

The US patent office judges have ruled that the Broad Institutes and UC-Berkeley’s patents do not interfere, providing a win for the Broad.  This effectively allows both UC-Berkeley and the Broad to have patents covering portions of the CRISPR intellectual property landscape, possibly requiring companies to license patents from both institutions.  This decision may be appealed to the circuit courts by UC-Berkeley.

The Patent Battle: Who is involved and how we got here

Jon Cohen, Science Magazine, 15 February 2017,

With the patent office’s announcement that UC-Berkeley’s and the Broad Institute’s patents do not interfere, the patent saga has reached a possible conclusion.  The complicated interference proceeding resulted from multiple researchers spread across the world publishing about the CRISPR/Cas system at relatively the same time along with the creation of multiple companies to investigate the systems usefulness in medicine and agriculture.  This article, published prior to the patents office decision in Science Magazine, breaks down the events leading up to the interference proceeding and how the lines were drawn.

The CRISPR patent battle spans two continents

Isobel Finnie and Catherine Williamson, GEN Exclusives, 6 February 2017,

The CRISPR/Cas9 patent battle has been closely watched in the United States with a decision expected in the next few months. Less attention has been paid to the ongoing European patent battle.  Like in the US, both UC-Berkeley and The Broad Institute have submitted competing patent applications.  Currently the Broad Institute has received all granted patents over UC-Berkeley, however the Broad is facing challenges to these decisions.

Patent licenses used to address ethics concerns

Guerrini, C. J. et. al. (2017) Nature Biotechnology. 35:22-24.

While countries and institutions can be slow to adapt to new ethics concerns, patent holders have the ability to restrict use on new technology.  The Broad Institute has adopted this method to control uses of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in licenses with both Monsanto and Editas Medicine.  Similarly, the creator of the CRISPR/Cas gene drive plans to use his patent to force full disclosure of methods and results from both academics and industry.  While the use of patents to limit ethics concerns is not without problems, it can allow time for larger ethics structures to be implemented.