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6 December 2016Americas

CRISPR ‘drama’ plays out at the USPTO

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard is appearing against the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), which is joined by the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, in a patent interference proceeding today.

The hearing will determine who is the true inventor of the CRISPR gene-editing technology.

Robert Underwood, partner at McDermott Will & Emery, said: “It is very unlikely that the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will say that there is no interference.”

The parties will appear in front of three judges at the USPTO’s headquarters in Virginia.

In the interference proceeding, the USPTO will consider and compare historical documentary evidence from both parties.

Underwood added: “Along the way, judges will be able to determine whether the technology in dispute itself is at all patentable. The longer the case goes on, the bigger are the chances that the board may come to this conclusion.”

Each party will have 20 minutes to make its arguments, which will be limited to issues related to the motions already filed.

According to Underwood, the best solution in the case would be if the parties came to a settlement agreement.

He added that the case is a “true scientific drama”.

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