The CRISPR-Cas9 Ownership Dispute

CRISPR-Cas9 is a popular genome editing tool that is creating quite a buzz in the science world. 

Multiple academic institutions are currently involved in an intellectual property ownership dispute about the CRISPR-Cas9 technology.


The CRISPR-Cas9 Ownership Dispute Presentation Slides (pdf)


Presentation points included:

What is CRISPR-Cas9?

  • Clustered Regularly-Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR associated proteins.
  • Popular gene editing tool.
  • Essential in adaptive immunity.
  • Naturally occurring defense mechanism used by bacteria to protect from viral infection.
  • Engineered by scientist to cut and paste other DNA sequences making it useful in genomics research.

Significance of CRISPR

  • Can create mouse models of human diseases much more quickly than before.
  • Study individual genes much faster, and easily change multiple genes in cells at once to study their interactions.
  • Could potentially lead to new types of treatments and even cures for diseases.

How can CRISPR-Cas9 be Patented?

  • This naturally-occurring bacterial process cannot be patented; even if isolated.
  • The parties have created methods, components and compositions that are adaptations of the naturally occurring system and made them useful in methods for editing genomes. These are all patentable.
  • This naturally occurring system was repurposed.

CRISPR-Cas9 Patent Landscape

  • As of November 2016, 42 patents with claims to CRISPR and/or Cas9
  • 13 CRISPR patents to the Broad Institute directed to mammalian genome editing methods
  • 10 additional CRISPR patents to Harvard University.
  • 3 CRISPR patents to DuPont; 1 to Agilent Technologies; 1 to University of Georgia Research Foundation; 1 to Institut Pasteur, and 1 to Caribou Biosciences.
  • European Patent Office (EPO) has granted six of Broad’s patent applications as of February