Many of us have ideas and dreams, which we hope may translate into commercial success. Increasingly, we turn to patent protection to safeguard the products of our ingenuity. Patents cover any new, useful and unobvious invention. Amazon's 1-Click checkout system, Viagra, the telephone, the lightbulb, Windows software, the Dyson vacuum cleaner, a novel windsurf board, Lego toy bricks, the artificial heart, cat's eye road reflectors, the computer mouse, and a unique cut of a diamond are all examples of past or current patents filed worldwide. Patents are global and cover hundreds of thousands of products and processes you may encounter in daily life, including some types of prescription pills, flatscreen televisions, windscreen wipers, pacemakers, satellite systems, plastic products.
There certainly was reason for celebration at UC Berkeley on Feb. 8, when the U.S. patent office announced it would award UC a key patent for CRISPR, a groundbreaking technology for gene editing. The announcement capped a nearly six-year journey through the patent thickets for the university and Jennifer Doudna, the Berkeley scientist generally credited as the main inventor of CRISPR. UC had filed its patent application on March 15, 2013. Since then, the university had received two other CRISPR-related patents, but this one was all-encompassing, covering tools for editing DNA molecules "in any setting, both in vitro and within live cells … [and] across every cell type," as UC stated in its press release. All this racing to get patents is not really advancing the science or commercialization.