NIST Seeking Comments on CRISPR Lexicon

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On September 18, 2019, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Genome Editing Consortium (GEC) formally sought comments on genome editing, commonly called CRISPR, terminology in order to develop a standardized system of terms and definitions for the CRISPR research community.  This is the first time the NIST has made overtures to develop a more robust lexicography for CRISPR research.

The impact on patents are important.  First, because CRISPR – clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats – which seeks to alter or edit genomic material at different locations in the DNA strand, which in turn, can lead to therapeutic treatments for a variety of single-gene diseases, is technology so new, that the Patent Examining Corp is still struggling with developing a coherent examination guideline for these applications.  As such, these CRISPR patent applications inevitably would be subject to potential patent-eligibility rejections under 35 U.S.C. §101.  The working model for a standardized lexicography could assist with terminology that is well-understood, routine or conventional, which is necessary to determine in the Step 2B analysis of a patent-eligibility rejection (MPEP 2106.05(d)).  Notwithstanding, the new standard could be useful for what could be considered common sense or ordinary routine practice, important for analyzing an obviousness rejection under 35 U.S.C. §103 (MPEP 2141).

A form is available on the NIST website for comment input, and no deadline has yet to established.  We will continue to monitor the process and update the blog with any further developments.