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With discussions underway to create a CRISPR patent pool, Kevin O’Connor of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg discusses the three main perspectives when considering the main benefits of such a move.
The emergence of CRISPR as a gene-editing technology has generated a great deal of excitement in the scientific and medical communities. Potential applications may impact not only gene-editing research, but also the areas of industrial biotechnology and human therapeutics, where CRISPR technology may be developed and commercialised as gene- and/or cell-based therapeutics.
The patent landscape surrounding CRISPR technology is also attracting a great deal of attention. To date, most of the focus has been on the battle between the University of California (UC) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard at the US Patent and Trademark Office. However, several other entities have patents and patent applications directed to CRISPR technology, including Toolgen, Vilnius University, and Sigma-Aldrich.
As with other nascent technologies, there is a potential for securing patent claims having greater breadth than more well-developed technologies where a great deal of prior art may be available. The number of entities holding patents and patent applications in this space coupled with the potential for securing broad claims—particularly for the early entrants to the field—serves to create a complex patent landscape that will need to be carefully navigated by companies wishing to make use of the technology going forward.
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