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European Patent Office Upholds ERS Genomics-Held CRISPR Patent

NEW YORK — ERS Genomics said on Tuesday that a CRISPR patent held by the company has been upheld by the European Patent Office (EPO).

Dublin-based 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.

ERS said that one of the patents controlled by the company — European patent No. 3,401,400, which covers methods and compositions of using CRISPR-Cas9 to modify DNA and regulate gene activity in eukaryotic cells and was issued in 2019 — had been challenged for allegedly lacking novelty and inventiveness.

While the EPO had been asked to revoke the patent in its entirety, the agency’s opposition division rejected the request and upheld the patent with minor modifications to its claim language that account for European rules applying to restrictions involving human germ cells and embryos, ERS said.

"After considerable confusion with regard to these matters in the US recently, we appreciate that the EPO understands the big picture when it comes to CRISPR-Cas9 and this was, in my opinion, the only reasonable and fair outcome," ERS CEO Eric Rhodes said in a statement.

In March, the US Patent and Trademark Office found that patents held by the Broad Institute covering CRISPR-Cas9 in eukaryotic cells have priority over similar IP held by Charpentier, the University of Vienna, and the University of California.

In early 2020, the EPO upheld a separate CRISPR-Cas9 patent controlled by ERS.