Broad Institute Decides to Share Non-Exclusive Licenses for CRISPR IP?

CRISPR IP has been the talk of the town amongst life scientists. Where, Harvard Broad Institute of MIT and Millipore Sigma have finally decided how they will be offering intellectual property rights relating to CRISPR in the form of non-exclusive licenses for commercial usage and further enhancement of the product.[1]

What is CRISPR?

CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. CRISPR system has two basic components, namely a strand of guide RNA and a CRISPR associated endonuclease.[2] It has natural properties of defence wherein it is capable of detecting and killing the viruses by itself. Initially CRISPR was identified as nothing but a “general purpose gene editing tool”. The scientists involved in the invention tried filing the patent application which got denied because of its commercial and industrial usage.[3] Later the scientist at Broad Institute and Harvard had found out a way for its practical application which could be beneficial and would make medical treatments more effective. As a result of which Broad institute got a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office in the year 2014. There are uncountable number of people who aresuffering through life threatening diseases like cancer, Huntington’s disease and many others. Not to forget about the expenditure that patients incur during their treatments. However, introduction of CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool withholds the potential of curing and improving the fate of medicine.

The agreement sought by the scientists of Broad and Millipore Sigma have agreed to give non-exclusive access to CRISPR in order to advance the technology either through the agreement or through the third part collaborations. Also, under this licensing program institutes like non-profit communities, non-profit academic institutions and others would have the licenses royalty free as long as they fit in the criteria of Broad Institute therefore, they can freely research.

Exception to the non-exclusive license:

The Board and Millipore Sigma mentioned that issuing non-exclusive license would have its limitations, for now, it follows the basic code of ethics but excludes any technological aspect relating to clinical human germline editing. The team has also set up an independent and unbiased Bioethics Advisory Panel whose role is to extend their guidance in research forall the spheres which involves genome editing. The entire licensing framework is inclusive of many other institutions like Harvard, MIT, University of Iowa Research Foundation, NY Genome Centre, and others.  

The COO of Broad Institute explained in his statement that Broad presently awards non-exclusive CRISPR licenses for all applications barring human therapeutics. The team at Broad Institute feels that this knowledge of CRISPR technology should be shared as much as possible to save lives and therefore express their efforts of making attempt to make sure that maximum number of people have access to CRISPR IP.

One success story was witnessed at Milipore Sigma wherein a new genome editing technique was designed with a purpose of enhancing the speed and efficiency of CRISPR. All things considered, this year has been landmark for CRISPR patent.

Author: Shruti Mandhotra, BBA LLB, 4th year , School of Law, UPES, Intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at niharika@khuranaandkhurana.com

References:

[1] https://www.genengnews.com/news/broad-institute-milliporesigma-to-offer-non-exclusive-licenses-to-crispr-ip/

[2]https://www.americanbar.org/groups/intellectual_property_law/publications/landslide/2017-18/january-february/crispr-new-frontier-biotechnology-innovation-digital-feature/

[3] https://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2017/02/article_0005.html

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