NYSSTLC Lab to Market Webinar: CRISPR Patents, with Jacob S. Sherkow, Sept. 14, 2017

Posted on Thursday 8/31/2017

“CRISPR Patents,” a NYSSTLC Lab to Market webinar with Jacob S. Sherkow, Associate Professor of Law at the Innovation Center for Law and Technology, New York Law School

Sept. 14, 2017 | 1 - 2:15 p.m. EST

CRISPR is a revolutionary advance in biotechnology: it allows molecular biologists to edit cells’ DNA with ease and precision unimaginable even a decade ago. 

The technology is also the subject of contentious patent dispute between several universities, and it is governed by a maze licensing agreements among research institutions, nonprofits, biotech startups, and large pharmaceutical developers. Patents in the CRISPR space illuminate numerous problems—and advantages—of university-based intellectual property for groundbreaking technologies. 

The CRISPR patents herald the beginning of skepticism over inter-institutional collaboration, especially for lucrative “translational” technologies. And they have encouraged universities—otherwise committed to licensing their patents widely—to invest in for-profit surrogate companies to narrowly manage their license agreements for them. 

At the same time, CRISPR patents have allowed publicly minded research institutions to retain control over the technology to essentially prevent some of the technology’s greatest potential abuses: runaway genetic modifications in the wild, also known as “gene drives”; seed-saving restrictions for agriculture; and germ-line human engineering. Using several short papers as guides, this talk will present an overview of these issues and discuss their application to future applications of CRISPR and other significant university-developed technology.