Genome Editing Technology Sparks Patent War

The University of California Berkeley and Harvard University have entered into a court battle. A lawsuit between the two will pit the two well respected educational institutes against each other in a legal tussle over the rights to process new genome engineering technology. The legal team for the Board of Regents at the University of California approached the United States Patent and Trademark Office in April to ask them if they would reconsider patents awarded to Harvard, MIT and the Broad Institute; arguing that, the right to process this technology should belong to its rightful inventor, Jennifer Doudna from UC Berkeley.

DNA genomes

A postdoctoral associate a UC Berkeley, Brett Staahl was quoted recently as saying that CRISPR-Cas9 technology might have the potential possibly to rectify the cause of genetic disease and is a more reliable way to modify DNA sequencing.

The technology functions like a precise and programmable pair of scissors enabling scientists to modify the sequences of DNA in a more reliable way when compared to other methods of gene-editing.

In April 2014, patents for the development of the technology for its commercial use were awarded to Dr. Feng Zhang from the Broad Institute; after he and a team of researchers supplied the research notebooks from their lab as evidence, their team had invented this genome editing tool on their own.

The research team along with Zhang developed more innovations that the team led by Dr. Doudna did, giving a competitive edge to the Broad Institute in the dispute over intellectual property in the opinion of the U.S. Patent Office.

According to a news agency, the Regents’ legal team has disputed evidence that Zhang’s team provided as they are questioning whether it is sufficient grounds to assign patents. This battle is expected to be in the court system for quite some time as the educational institutes want what they feel is their intellectual property.