CRISPR patents: guidance from US courts


Pat Carson and Mira Atanassova Mulvaney

CRISPR patents: guidance from US courts

ralwel /

Several recent cases from the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit offer guidance on navigating the §101 legal framework with respect to CRISPR patent claims, as Pat Carson and Mira Atanassova Mulvaney of Kirkland & Ellis report.

The CRISPR gene manipulation system—an adaptive immune system used by microbes to defend against viruses, which has been repurposed into an efficient and reliable gene-editing technique in mammalian cells—has taken the genome engineering world by storm and has attracted much attention for its immense promise in the development of innovative diagnostic tools and therapies.

Since the filing of the first patent claiming CRISPR as a gene-editing tool in 2012, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted more than 1,000 patents pertaining to CRISPR in some form, and over 600 applications with claims pertaining to CRISPR remain pending.

Building on the original CRISPR patents, which modestly claimed methods of sequencing certain CRISPR regions, and similarly narrow applications encompassing strain typing, phage resistance and uses in bacteria, the current CRISPR patent landscape appears enormously varied, both in terms of the patentees and applicants involved and the types of claims sought.

CRISPR, Kirkland & Ellis, Pat Carson, Mira Atanassova Mulvaney, immune system, gene manipulation, microbes, viruses, gene-editing, genome engineering