The CRISPR patent fight has flared up as lawyers representing the Broad Institute and the University of California as well as judges from the US Patent and Trademark Office held their first conference call, Stat News reports.
The patent suit centers around who first invented the CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing tool. The Broad's Feng Zhang filed his patent application on October 15, 2013, though claimed a December 12, 2012 priority date, and he was issued a patent April 15, 2014 after an accelerated review. The University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, now at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, meanwhile, filed their patent application on March 15, 2013. UC then sought an interference proceeding.
According to Stat News, much of the recent conference call dealt with UC's claim that Zhang never had or used tracrRNA in any of his submitted filings. UC alleged in a motion that the "Broad withheld or misrepresented material information with the intent to deceive the USPTO" so that it would think that Zhang did more than he really did.
During the call, the Broad "strenuously" denied those claims, called them "unfounded," and further suggested that making those claims violated patent office rules.
Stat News adds that one of the judges asked during the call whether the two sides had discussed a settlement, but the parties replied that they had not.
A hearing has been tentatively scheduled for mid-November.