September 21, 2016
(Nature) – Geneticist George Church has pioneered methods for sequencing and altering genomes. He has been called a founding father of synthetic biology, and is probably the world’s leading authority on efforts to resurrect the extinct woolly mammoth. Now, a battle over who owns the patent rights to a revolutionary gene-editing technique could hinge, in part, on whether Church’s scientific skill could be considered ‘ordinary’. Such are the arcane and often bizarre issues the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) must consider in the fight over CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing. But the proceedings, which could drag out for years, have taken an ugly turn from scientific minutiae to accusations of impropriety.
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