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European Patent Office Upholds UC Berkeley CRISPR Patent

NEW YORK – ERS Genomics said on Monday that the European Patent Office (EPO) has upheld one of the CRISPR patents the company holds.

ERS was founded to provide access to CRISPR-Cas9 intellectual property held by Emmanuelle Charpentier. This CRISPR IP is shared between her, Jennifer Doudna and the University of California, and the University of Vienna, and is separate from genome editing patents held by the Broad Institute.

The EPO rejected arguments that were filed by anonymous parties in opposition to European patent No. EP2800811, titled "Methods and Compositions for RNA-Directed Target DNA Modification and for RNA-Directed Modulation of Transcription," and affirmed the patentability of the inventions described, ERS said. The claims in the patent describe a single-guide CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system and cover its use in both cellular and non-cellular settings, including in bacteria, plants, animals, and cells from vertebrates.

The EPO allowed the patent to stand with minor modifications to two of the 23 original claims and removed two dependent claims, ERS said, adding that the removal of those claims has almost no impact on the broad coverage of the patent.

"It is gratifying to have the European patent office confirm the novelty and inventiveness of this discovery," Charpentier said in a statement. "I am pleased to see to what extent CRISPR-Cas9 has become such an important tool in many important areas of research, not to speak of its potential as a curative therapeutic for serious and life-threatening diseases."

The opposition proceedings were part of a standard procedure at the EPO, a UC Berkeley spokesperson added. All EPO patents are subject to a nine-month window for filing of an opposition, and any person can file an opposition anonymously. The parties who filed this opposition claim are unknown.

"The outcome of the opposition hearing reinforces the broad and fundamental nature of this patent," ERS CEO Eric Rhodes added in a statement. "This result, combined with the recent EPO Technical Board of Appeal decision upholding the full revocation of the Broad Institute's patent EP2771468, viewed as its foundational CRISPR-Cas9 patent in Europe, further solidifies our position as holding the predominant CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio."

In January, the EPO Board of Appeal upheld the revocation of a Broad CRISPR patent, a decision that could affect up to nine of its 21 CRISPR-Cas9 patents in Europe.