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March 28, 2017

Charpentier, UC Berkeley, U. Vienna to Be Granted European CRISPR Patent

  • The European Patent Office has announced an “intention to grant a patent” broadly covering CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) technology to Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D., a director at the Max-Planck Institute in Berlin, together with the University of California and University of Vienna.

    The technology has been licensed to companies that include CRISPR Therapeutics—whose co-founders include Dr. Charpentier—and ERS Genomics, both of which announced the EPO decision today.

    The companies said the patent to be granted consists of broad claims directed to the CRISPR/Cas9 single-guide gene-editing system for uses in both noncellular and cellular settings, including in cells from vertebrate animals such as human or mammalian cells—as well as composition claims for use in any setting, including claims for use in a method of therapeutic treatment of a patient.

    “We’re very pleased with the decision by the European Patent Office recognizing the broad applicability of our foundational IP, and we look forward to pursuing additional cases to grant in other jurisdictions globally,” CRISPR Therapeutics CEO Rodger Novak, M.D., said in a statement by his company.

    Added ERS Genomics CEO Eric Rhodes: “I hope this decision by the EPO provides even more clarity for those looking to utilize the technology. At ERS, we are hopeful that we can expect similar outcomes throughout the roughly 80 countries that use a first-to-file system like Europe.”

    The EPO acted on European patent application No. 13793997, which had been challenged by parties that include the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Dr. Charpentier and UC Berkeley are among parties that have clashed with the Broad over 12 U.S. patents related to CRISPR technology that list as inventor a researcher based at the Institute, Feng Zhang, Ph.D.

    The EPO found that the technical evidence and associated legal arguments offered by the Broad and other challengers did not affect its view of the patentability of the CRISPR technology described by the Charpentier/UC Berkeley/Vienna application.

    Last month, a three-judge panel of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ruled in favor of the Broad by finding “no interference in fact” between the 12 patents and a patent application by Dr. Charpentier and Dr. Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D. The ruling allowed the application to be returned to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examiner who previously determined it allowable for review.

    ERS and CRISPR Therapeutics in December teamed up with Intellia Therapeutics and Caribou Biosciences (co-founded by one of the original CRISPR researchers, Dr. Doudna, of UC Berkeley) to sign a global cross-consent and invention management agreement for the foundational intellectual property covering CRISPR/Cas9 with the Regents of UC, the University of Vienna, and Dr. Charpentier.

    A few days later, Editas Medicines said it exclusively licensed CRISPR-related IP from the Broad, Harvard University, MIT, Wageningen University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Tokyo. Editas said that agreement covered a new CRISPR genome-editing system known as Cpf1, as well as advanced forms of Cas9, and additional Cas9-based genome-editing technologies.

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