CRISPR, Surrogate Licensing, and Scientific Discovery

Science, Vol. 355, Issue 6326, pp. 698-700, Feb. 2017

University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 223

4 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2017 Last revised: 16 Aug 2017

See all articles by Jorge L. Contreras

Jorge L. Contreras

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Jacob S. Sherkow

University of Illinois College of Law; Carle Illinois College of Medicine; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - European Union Center; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Date Written: February 17, 2017

Abstract

Several research institutions are embroiled in a legal dispute over the foundational patent rights to CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, and it may take years for their competing claims to be resolved. But even before ownership of the patents is finalized, the institutions behind CRISPR have wasted no time capitalizing on the huge market for this groundbreaking technology by entering into a series of licensing agreements with commercial enterprises. With respect to the potentially lucrative market for human therapeutics and treatments, each of the key CRISPR patent holders has granted exclusive rights to a spinoff or "surrogate" company formed by the institution and one of its principal researchers. Although this model, in which a university effectively outsources the licensing and commercialization of a valuable patent portfolio to a private company, is not uncommon in the world of university technology transfer, we suggest it could rapidly bottleneck the use of CRISPR technology to discover and develop useful human therapeutics.

Keywords: Intellectual Property, Patent, Biotech, Biotechnology, CRISPR, Genetics, Surrogate, Licensing, Spinoff

JEL Classification: K00, K23, K41, O3, O34, D23, K11

Suggested Citation

Contreras, Jorge L. and Sherkow, Jacob S., CRISPR, Surrogate Licensing, and Scientific Discovery (February 17, 2017). Science, Vol. 355, Issue 6326, pp. 698-700, Feb. 2017, University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 223, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2993190

Jorge L. Contreras

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

Jacob S. Sherkow (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Carle Illinois College of Medicine ( email )

506 S Mathews Ave
Urbana, IL 61801
United States

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - European Union Center ( email )

Coble Hall
801 S Wright St
Champaign, IL 61820

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology ( email )

Urbana, IL
United States

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