The development of CRISPR depends, in part, on the patents—past, present, and future—covering it. As for the past, the origins of the CRISPR patent landscape predate its use as a gene editing technology. Fundamental patents covering CRISPR-Cas9 as a genomic editing system did not first arise until 2012; they sparked the now canonical dispute between the University of California and the Broad Institute. The present dispute has not stopped widespread licensing of critical patents, however, bringing with it an explosion of research from both academic and commercial sectors. Whether this broad availability will persist in the future remains uncertain. The ease and reliability of CRISPR threatens many future patents as being “obvious.” Nor is it clear how academic scientists and technology transfer offices will respond to the patent dispute. Like the technology itself, the future of the CRISPR patent landscape depends on researchers and their institutions.