The latest CRISPR patent case aims to do what the first didn’t: determine who gets rights to the gene editing technology in eukaryotic cells, a category that covers almost all the cell types that matter to drug developers.
The outcome is likely to shake up the IP rights of CRISPR companies, with the stakes highest for the most advanced biotechs whose therapies rely on CRISPR-Cas9, the foundational technology.
Last week, two new players entered the limelight, with the potential to throw a wrench into the already complex works.
On June 24, the Patent and Trial Appeals Board (PTAB) of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) declared an interference between the University of California and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The case involves a large set of patents and applications, all of which cover use of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in eukaryotic cells.
This is the second time the two parties have met in an interference, and it comes just nine months after the first case concluded with a “no interference in fact” determination, meaning the groups’ claims were determined different enough to be separately patentable (see “No Crisp Upper Hand In CRISPR”).
While the highly anticipated first decision did little to resolve the question of CRISPR ownership, the consensus among five patent attorneys and CRISPR legal scholars interviewed by BioCentury is that this time it is likely to be different, given PTAB’s systematic review of the eukaryotic claims.
"This is really extraordinary. It could blow the lid off everything."