A federal appeals court has rejected arguments that UC Berkeley has exclusive rights to patents for the powerful CRISPR gene-editing tool, casting a pall over the university’s future earnings from a technique which gives scientists near godlike power: altering the genetic sequences of cells.
On [September 10], the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington upheld an earlier ruling that patents held for inventions by the Harvard University-affiliated Broad Institute were different than what’s covered by UC’s applications, and do not interfere with each other.
[The decision] means that Broad can keep its patents and continue to share the technology with many licensees, most notably Editas Medicine of Cambridge, MA.
In response, “we are evaluating further litigation options,” said Charles F. Robinson of UC’s Office of the President, suggesting an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
UC contested a dozen CRISPR-based patents held by Broad, saying that their discoveries overlapped. The university has spent millions of dollars on the fight, a cost reimbursed by Berkeley-based biotech startup Caribou Biosciences, which has licensed the tool.
“It is time for all institutions to move beyond litigation,” Broad Institute said in an official statement. “We should work together to ensure wide, open access to this transformative technology.”
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