thescientist | US Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) today (February 15) issued a ruling on a patent dispute regarding CRISPR gene editing. The judges declared that the work by Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues (including Emmanuelle Charpentier, then at the University of Vienna) does not directly compete with the work of Feng Zhang at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which was granted the original CRISPR patent in April 2014.
“Broad has persuaded us that the parties claim patentably distinct subject matter,” the court wrote in its 51-page decision (which accompanied its two-page order). “Broad provided sufficient evidence to show that its claims, which are all limited to CRISPR-Cas9 systems in a eukaryotic environment, are not drawn to the same invention as UC’s claims, which are all directed to CRISPR-Cas9 systems not restricted to any environment.”
“It looks like Broad has the decisive victory in this case,” Jake Sherkow of New York Law School told The Scientist.
UC Berkeley said that, while it “respects” today’s ruling and is “pleased” that its patent application can now move forward, the university is considering “all options for possible next steps in this legal process, including the possibility of an appeal of the PTAB’s decision,” a statement read. “We continue to maintain that the evidence overwhelmingly supports our position that the Doudna/Charpentier team was the first group to invent this technology for use in all settings and all cell types.”
If UC Berkeley does appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, “those cases take roughly a year from soup to nuts,” said Sherkow. In that circumstance, a decision would likely come from the appellate court “sometime in February or March of next year.”