In the News: Professor Jacob Sherkow on the High-Profile CRISPR Patent Case

Professor Jacob Sherkow appeared in national news coverage this week on the latest twists in the legal battle over who owns the technology behind CRISPR, a powerful gene-editing tool.

The patent dispute over CRISPR, which has the potential to cure genetic diseases and generate billions, effectively ended this week when a federal appeals court ruled in favor of scientists from Harvard and M.I.T., quashing a challenge by an opposing team of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley. The new ruling affirms a February 2017 decision by judges from the federal Patent and Trademark Office and dramatically narrows the California team’s options for further litigation.

“This has been one of the single most heated disputes between two educational institutions over inventorship,” Professor Sherkow told the noted science publication Nature.

In an opinion piece on the ruling for the health and medicine news site STAT News, Professor Sherkow argued that, although he shares criticisms of the science behind the decision, he believes that it was still “absolutely correct.”

“The reason has to do with standards of review — the standards courts use to weigh evidence, limit their authority, and make decisions,” he wrote. “Like criminal law’s ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard, standards of review are incredibly important for many legal cases. They’re how much one side needs to prove something and, failing that, who should win.”

Professor Sherkow teaches intellectual property and patent law courses and is affiliated with NYLS’s Innovation Center for Law and Technology.

Read his comments on the ruling in these stories: