A hunch on that CRISPR patent battle as it heats up

CRISPR patent dispute
Adapted from NIH image

Who really invented CRISPR?

If it was many people and labs, who did it first and who deserves the credit?

When things like Nobel Prizes and Patents get decided on CRISPR-Cas9, who will be for lack of a better way of putting it, the winners and the losers?

It’s not a trivial question and despite what some argue that CRISPR shouldn’t be patented at all, someone will get the decisive patent and the fight to see who prevails in the CRISPR patent battle is getting more intense. For more background in what’s at stake on CRISPR and human gene editing, check out my new book GMO Sapiens.

The signs suggest that there cannot really be a kumbaya approach to credit for things CRISPR even if there were multiple key contributors. For Nobel Prizes, there are only 3 lots. For patents, in many cases even if they are scads of patents related to one thing as seems certain for CRISPR-Cas9-related technology, often only one patent dominates.

The patent situation on CRISPR has really become a battle between the UC system (disclaimer, I’m a UC employee) and the Broad Institute.

I am not going to choose sides or predict the outcome, but I do have a hunch and that is that despite all the different complicated, but important details and potential maneuvers now emerging this week in this patent dispute, what it will all boil down to in the end is just one thing.

The lab notebooks.

What is in the lab notebooks of the various parties involved, how conclusive is this material, and what are the dates on those notebooks?