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CRISPR Fight Flares

The University of California has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to determine who was the first to invent the CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing tool, reports Antonio Regalado at MIT's Technology Review. He adds that the outcome of this decision could have billion-dollar repercussions.

According to Regalado, the UC regents have asked the patent office to reconsider 10 patents related to the technique issued to the Broad Institute.

The University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier at Umeå University reported on the approach first in Science in 2012, but the Broad's Feng Zhang was awarded the first patent after submitting his lab notebook to show he invented it first.

If the patent office approves the request for a patent interference proceeding, Regalado says it'll spark a "winner-takes-all challenge."

"Expect this battle to be very expensive, very contentious, given the stakes involved," Greg Aharonian, director of the Center for Global Patent Quality, tells Regalado. "I can see many hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent."