CRISPR Ownership Disputes: Current Status and Future Prospects (Live MBHB Webinar)

Tues. Aug. 18, 2020 | 10:00-11:15 a.m. CT | Live MBHB Webinar via WebEx

CRISPR is a genetic technology that has great potential in medicine, agriculture, pharmaceutical and other applications. It permits scientists to specifically target genes and change phenotypes much more accurately and specifically than conventional ways of inactivating genes or adding new genes to cells that have been used for over a generation in making biologic drugs and in other applications. The applications are almost boundless and thus ownership of the technology is exceedingly valuable.

But who owns CRISPR for such applications has been in dispute for several years. The original technology in prokaryotes (from which synthetic applications were derived) was undisputedly by Jennifer Doudna (University of California/Berkeley) and Emmanuelle Charpentier (University of Vienna), and they have been granted patents on such applications. CRISPR in eukaryotic cells is much the more valuable aspect of the technology, and researchers at The Broad Institute, MIT, and Harvard University have been granted dozens of patents on such applications. A first interference was declared between these inventor groups in 2018, with the Federal Circuit affirming the PTAB’s judgment that there was no interference because these were patentably distinct inventions. Last summer the PTO declared a second interference (No. 106,115) and those proceedings continue.

To make matters more interesting, Sigma-Aldrich has been granted several CRISPR patents and has petitioned the PTAB to declare an interference between its patents and applications and those of the other parties. And there are other groups who have CRISPR-related applications that may also ultimately become involved in similar disputes.

The webinar will consider the following details about the technology and the patent disputes relating to ownership:

  • A brief overview of the technology
  • The players and what they have invented
  • The first interference and the grounds for the PTAB’s decision
  • The current interference, the status of the parties’ claims and motions
  • Possible outcomes of the PTAB’s consideration of these motions
  • The upcoming priority phase of the interference
  • Potential outcomes and impact on development and commercialization of CRISPR technology


Presenter(s): MBHB attorney Kevin Noonan, Ph.D.

McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP is committed to educating clients and friends of the firm with respect to significant developments and trends in the areas of intellectual property law.

NOTE: MCLE credit is not available for this archived recording.

Access an archived audio version of this webinar here