democratize CRISPR

If you’ll be looking to secure a patent for CRISPR anytime soon, you should be aware that this process is going to become a lot harder. 

A life sciences patent expert has explained that this is largely down to improved knowledge of the gene-editing technology’s wide-ranging potential applications, which means that it will be harder for future applicants to establish the non-obviousness of their CRISPR innovations. 

According to an argument made by Jacob S Sherkow, published in The CRISPR Journal, he traces some of the key developments in the CRISPR patent estate to the present day but is most interesting for its predictions about how the technology’s IP landscape will change in the future. 

However, this isn’t the first time questions of non-obviousness have been raised in connection with CRISPR. It is one of technology’s most-discussed patent dispute to date, between the University of California, Berkley, and the Massachusetts-based Broad Institute. 

Although the Broad Institute currently holds CRISPR rights, Sherkow suggests that it will be more difficult for future patent applicants to establish the non-obviousness of their innovations, because the gene-editing is now far more understood. 

He said, “Today, it seems there is a reasonable expectation of success in using CRISPR as a genome-editing tool for any system or cell type, and…(it) is at least obvious to try using CRISPR to accomplish these goals – two standards in patent law that strongly counsel against the patenting of follow-on inventions. CRISPR-based genome editing, in other words, is becoming a more predictable technology. Future patent applications covering CRISPR should consequently be more difficult to obtain.”

Therefore, if Sherkow’s predictions are correct, the rapid uptake of CRISPR-related patents that we have seen previously could soon be reduced, with those even granted one, now even more vulnerable. 

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