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  • Washington Highlights

    Patent Office Rules in Favor of Broad Institute in CRISPR Dispute

    Stephen Heinig, Director, Science Policy

    The US Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board Feb. 15 ruled that patents on the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 held by the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University do not overlap or “interfere” with University of California (UC) Berkeley patent claims.

    UC Berkeley investigators had filed separate patent applications, asserting they had invented the CRISPR technology first, based on their investigations of a naturally functioning immune defense in bacteria. However, the trial board determined that the Broad Institute had effectively developed inventions that are separate and distinct from those claimed by UC Berkeley because the institute had determined how to make CRISPR work in the eukaryotic cells of plants and animals.

    The decision allows UC to obtain separate patents on its work, but Berkley did not succeed in persuading the board to invalidate the Broad Institute patents. UC Attorneys have not said whether the university will appeal.