The U.S. patent office has declared an interference between a dozen key patents awarded to the Broad Institute on the genome-editing technology CRISPR and 10 CRISPR patent applications submitted by the University of California and its partners, according to documents posted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The declaration of an interference means that the patent office has determined that one or more patent applications describe inventions that are substantially the same as those for which patents have already been issued. In this case, the patents awarded to the Broad, beginning in 2014, describe the use of CRISPR-Cas9 to edit the genomes of eukaryotes — organisms whose genomes are enclosed within a cell nucleus, including all plants and animals — based on the research of Broad biologist Feng Zhang. UC’s patent applications also cover the use of CRISPR in eukaryotes, based on the work of UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier.
UC and the Broad already went through an interference proceeding that went all the way to federal appeals court, with the Broad prevailing.
That history made patent experts react almost identically to this latest development. “Here we are again,” said attorney Kevin Noonan of the Chicago law firm McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP, who specializes in biotech patents. “I can only imagine that this will go on, and on, and on.”