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Ernesto del Aguila III, NHGRI

Appeals court sides with Broad in CRISPR patent fight

Chalk up another win for the Broad Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the high-stakes patent battle over the invention of the genome editor commonly known as CRISPR. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today declined the appeal of a team of researchers led by the University of California (UC), Berkeley, to overturn an earlier ruling by the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board. That earlier decision granted certain CRISPR patent rights to the Broad group, which includes investigators from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There’s no dispute that the UC Berkeley–led group first showed how to convert an immune protection mechanism used by bacteria into a lab tool to edit genomes. But the patent fight centers on using CRISPR in mammalian cells, which opens the door for potentially lucrative new therapies. The Broad team was the first to publish that feat, but the UC Berkeley side has argued it was an obvious extension of its work. The appeals court did not rule on the validity of either party’s claims, but, as STAT reports, determined that the patent board did not err in its analysis of the facts presented to it. UC Berkeley could now either request a hearing before the full court of appeals or take the case to the Supreme Court. “We are evaluating further litigation options,” UC Berkeley said in a statement following the ruling.

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