Monday, December 5, 2016

A Hearing to Watch

Tomorrow the USPTO will hear the CRISPR patent case. As The Scientist notes:

CRISPR, the gene-editing technology that has taken the scientific community by storm, will have its day in court tomorrow (December 6) as three judges at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hear oral arguments to decide who owns the valuable intellectual property over its use. “The Broad Institute [of MIT and Harvard] is requesting priority based on its patent application filed on December 12, 2012,” ...The University of California, Berkeley, (UCB)/University of Vienna, on the other hand, is asking for its patent applications—filed on May 25, 2012 as well as in 2013 and 2014—to be prioritized. The first patent for the use of CRISPR to edit eukaryotic genomes went to Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University in spring 2014. However, another group—including Jennifer Doudna of UCB and Emmanuelle Charpentier, formerly of the University of Vienna—had filed a provisional patent application for their CRISPR technology six months earlier. In January, at the request of UCB, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) declared an “interference” between the two, and the agency now seeks to settle once and for all who has intellectual property rights to the gene-editing technology that has taken the scientific community by storm. Although the USPTO recently changed its rules from prioritizing “first to invent” to giving precedence to “first to file,” the CRISPR patent applications in question predate the rule change.  The interference proceeding, therefore, will be based on the “first to invent” system.

As we have noted before this will likely be a real Cat Fight. The timing and the rules will be most likely the telling fact.