Owner of CRISPR: The battle of CRISPR

The decision on February 28 is very significant as it gives patent rights to Harvard Institute but it is not the end, the world has to see more before this battle ends.

What is CRISPR?

CRISPR is a defense system for bacteria against viruses. When a virus attacks bacteria, the CRISPR gets alerted and it sent its Cas molecule to cut the bacteriophage’s DNA. Thus, CRISPR is the immune system of bacteria that store phage DNA to fight phage in the future. The discovery of CRISPR was much easy than discovering the components that will go with it.

What is the dispute?

Both the institute UC Berkeley and the MIT-Harvard Broad claimed IP rights to CRISPR – Cas9.

The tribunal in the US recently ruled in favor of Harvard Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, the legal dilemma over patent rights is unlikely to end promptly. The decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office on February 28 is disappointing for the University of California (UC), Berkeley, and CRISPR co-inventor Emmanuelle Charpentier.

It was said that Harvard and MIT’s Broad Institute obtained the patent properly in 2014. The tribunal said that UC, Berkeley failed to demonstrate the creation working with eukaryotic cells.

CRISPR patent was first sought by Jennifer Doudna by UC Berkeley and Charpentier of the University of Vienna in 2012. She got Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing this technology.

CRISPR is very important and has a large commercial value which is the main reason for the dispute.

Reason for dispute

The two great parties are always fighting over the patent right to CRISPR because the technology is of great value and in the future when these gene-editing therapies will be used then it will create a fortune for the patent owners.

Various patent offices in different countries have different decisions and theories regarding the truthful owner of the patent. The patent on technology related to CRISPR is growing day by day.   the technology used in the making CRISPR is so unique and important that fighting over the technology is worth the competition.

The major problem at present is that two famous entities recovered licenses from the UC group to test, experiment with these therapies. But after the decision by the US tribunal, these licenses will be revoked and the entities have to talk to the broad institute.  The situation is made to look complicated by both UC and the Broad Institute. The two companies of Seoul and Germany respectively are also wrestling over the CRISPR-Cas9 patents.

Other companies for the patent

It is said that apart from the parties to the dispute. Vilnius University also discovered the usage of Cas9. But it was removed from the discovery list because the university failed to demonstrate all the components necessary for genetic editing. Cas9 uses RNA to target DNA and now companies like DowDuPont, Millipore Sigma, and Cellectisowns CRISPR-Cas9 patents.  Even some companies purchased patent agreements from multiple CRISPR entities. To have a broad range of CRISPR, the companies are busy in the process of collecting patients from different companies. 

The whole world as Owners

So, if we talk about the future,

  •  then the people who applied for CRISPR patents will be successful.
  • It will be difficult for the researchers to find who has the patent of Cas.
  • CRISPR-Cas can correct genetic errors that prevent the production of protein Dystrophin.
  • Everybody owing CRISPR will make it more organised.
  • The monopoly over CRISPR – Cas9 would control the research and manufacturing landscape by buying them.
  • If the Cas9 does not become a molecule in future, then the molecule CasX are much smaller which make them easy to deliver to patients.
  • An academic institution has access to Cas free of cost.


The best way to end the battle is to create new nuclei and to have more predictability and optimism towards the future of these technologies. The higher authorities should not waste time in fighting for ownership instead they should concentrate on using this technology on people who need it. There are people out there who are suffering from genetic errors and need this technology as soon as possible. Technology also needs to upgrade according to the evolution of humans.

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