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Cellectis, Precision Bio Differ on EPO Decision Regarding Gene-Engineering Patent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – French genome engineering company Cellectis said yesterday that that the European Patent Office has upheld one of its patents that has been the subject of ongoing litigation with US biotech firm Precision BioSciences.

However, in a statement released this morning, Precision BioSciences said that the EPO had "severely restricted" Cellectis' claims under the patent.

The patent, EP 1485475, relates to engineering methods for meganucleases, and is owned by Cellectis. Precision BioSciences, based in Research Triangle Park, NC, requested a re-examination of the patent after Cellectis sued Precision for allegedly infringing it.

The engineering methods described in the patent are based on the genetic fusion of meganuclease modules to obtain hybrid meganucleases, Cellectis said.

"This decision makes us even more determined in our constant fight to defend our intellectual property rights," Cellectis CEO André Choulika said in a statement.

While Cellectis claimed the EPO's decision went in its favor, Precision Bio said that the office revoked previously granted claims in the patent. It said that claims to single-chain meganucleases, including those derived from I-Crel, "were revoked in their entirety," while claims to hybrid meganucleases "were cancelled or severely restricted."

"Oddly, Cellectis issued a press release claiming that the EPO 'upheld' their patent despite the fact that they lost all of their claims to single-chain meganucleases," Precision BioSciences CEO Matthew Kane, said in a statement. "We hope all of their patents are similarly 'upheld.'"

The US Patent and Trademark Office is currently re-examining a pair of related patents owned by the Institut Pasteur and Universite Pierre et Marie Curie and licensed exclusively to Cellectis. Precision also requested a re-examination of these patents, US Nos. 6,610,545 and 7,309,605, after Cellectis sued Precision for allegedly infringing them.