Broad Institute lands major victory in CRISPR patent fight over UC Berkeley, Nobel winners
Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna have their Nobel prizes in chemistry for their CRISPR-Cas9 DNA scissors, but the US Patent and Trademark Office made clear late Monday that Harvard-MIT’s Broad Institute and superstar researcher Feng Zhang control the patents involving claims to CRISPR-Cas9 systems for use in eukaryotic (have a nucleus) cells.
The decision was another huge legal blow to the Nobel prize winners, as well as the University of California and University of Vienna, and companies like Intellia Therapeutics and Charpentier-founded CRISPR Therapeutics, which do not have licenses with the Broad Institute. Intellia, which also released some early CRISPR data on Monday, saw its stock price fall by about 9% after hours on Monday.
Other companies like Editas Medicine, which has licensed IP from the Broad, celebrated the decision.
“The decision reaffirms the strength of our foundational intellectual property as we continue our work to develop life-changing medicines for people living with serious diseases,” Editas CEO James Mullen said in a statement.
The decision Monday also reaffirms several past court decisions. Back in 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided that the pivotal IP belonged to the Broad, upholding a 2017 decision by the USPTO.
The patent in question, originally granted in 2014, began with work at the Broad and MIT in early 2011, and culminated in a publication in Science in Jan. 2013.
“This marked the world’s first engineering of CRISPR-Cas9 to be delivered and used to achieve mammalian genome editing. Zhang was the first to file a patent application that described and enabled such a method,” the Broad explains.
Despite the patent, and legal tussle, Zhang, Doudna and Charpentier have sought to make their inventions more widely accessible. Since 2013, the institute says that Zhang’s lab has openly shared CRISPR reagents and tools with more than 3,000 institutions in 75 countries through the nonprofit Addgene.
University of Illinois law professor Jacob Sherkow, who has been following the legal terrain around CRISPR-Cas9 closely over the years, shared his thoughts in a long thread on the result yesterday, adding, “I don’t think an appeal is going anywhere.”
So: what does this all mean? Well, it's provided some clarity to who owns the *eukaryotic* Cas9 #CRISPR #patent estate: *the Broad.* An interesting development given that the clinical trial companies farthest along—namely, $NTLA and $CRSP—*do not* have Broad #patent licenses. /15
— Jacob S. Sherkow 🦆💊🏸⚫ (@jsherkow) February 28, 2022