Gene Editing, Legal

Editas’ rivals appeal a recent setback on patent fight, mapping a global war for CRISPR supremacy

Emmanuelle Charpentier

The gene editing consortium that has sought to bottle up rival Editas $EDIT with claims of patent infringement are making a federal case out of a recent setback in the US.

In mid-February the US Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled that there was no interference between the two sides in the dispute, allowing each to patent their work on CRISPR/Cas9 and carry on. But the University of California, the University of Vienna, and Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier aren’t taking no for an answer.

They have decided to continue the fight in federal court, appealing the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, targeting patents from The Broad Institute.

Jennifer Doudna

The consortium includes a group of biotech companies founded on the IP established by Charpentier and her colleague Jennifer Doudna: CRISPR Therapeutics $CRSP, Intellia Therapeutics $NTLA, Caribou Biosciences and ERS Genomics.

CRISPR/Cas9 research has exploded in the last few years, spawning a slate of biotech startups that are looking to use this new tech to edit disease out of DNA. While still preclinical with years to go before any product could conceivably near the market, analysts and investors have been whipped up by the revolutionary potential of this technology, and the founding scientists have been at each other’s throats over the IP.

Most patent fights in biopharma end with a simple royalty agreement. But this time the fight is clearly personal and the anger runs deep.

Feng Zhang

The group said today it is also waging a global patent battle for CRISPR/Cas9 supremacy over Editas and its scientific founder, Feng Zhang, who patented the rival technology at The Broad.

They say they are “pursuing applications in the U.S. and other jurisdictions worldwide to obtain patents claiming the CRISPR/Cas9 technology and its use in non-cellular and cellular settings, including eukaryotic cells. Corresponding patents have already been granted in the United Kingdom, and the European Patent Office is also granting a patent to UC, which will issue on May 10, 2017. UC’s earliest patent application describing the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology and its use was filed on May 25, 2012, while the Broad’s earliest patent application was filed more than six months later, on December 12, 2012.”


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