UC receives 20th CRISPR patent before end of 2019

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, issued the UC system’s 20th CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology patent with the arrival of the new year, according to a press release by Berkeley News.

The patent, titled “Methods and compositions for RNA-directed target DNA modification and for RNA-directed modulation of transcription,” was awarded to inventors UC Berkeley professor Jennifer Doudna, Krzysztof Chylinski of the University of Vienna, Emmanuelle Charpentier, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin and Martin Jinek, an assistant professor at the University of Zurich.

“Being a leader in intellectual property goes hand-in-hand with promoting innovation for the betterment of humankind,” said Eldora Ellison, lead patent strategist on CRISPR-Cas9 matters for the UC system, in an email.

Ellison added in the email that the patent stems from the inventors’ first patent application filed in May 2012 and reveals that the CRISPR Cas-9 system has wide-reaching applications.

While the university has exclusively licensed its patent rights to Caribou Biosciences Inc., Caribou has offered sub-licenses to many companies worldwide, including Intellia Therapeutics Inc., according to Ellison.

“UC also has a policy of making its technology widely available for non-profit uses,” Ellison said in the email.

The USPTO Patent Trial and Appeal Board announced in June 2019 an interference between multiple UC patents and Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute patents, signaling a possible end to an eight-year ownership debate over which inventor team holds priority over the genome-editing method.

On one side of the issue is the UC system and its collaborators, and on the other side is the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with its collaborators, Harvard University and MIT.

The UC system became the largest CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio holder in the U.S. in October 2019 when it reached its 16th patent and continues to hold this record. According to the press release, the UC system has received notices for five additional patents projected to be issued in early 2020.

Contact Olivia Buccieri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @obuccieri_dc‏.