Moderna sues Pfizer/BioNTech for Covid-19 vaccines patent breach
American vaccine maker Moderna has filed a lawsuit against US pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for infringing patents central to its mRNA technology platform.
In a news release, the US-based biotech firm cited infringement on its patents in developing the first COVID-19 vaccine approved in the US, alleging they copied technology that Moderna developed years before the pandemic.
“Moderna believes that Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine Comirnaty infringes patents Moderna filed between 2010 and 2016 covering Moderna’s foundational mRNA technology,” the statement read.
However, Pfizer and BioNTech said they are yet to fully review the complaint, but expressed surprise over the litigation.
“The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine was based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology,” a statement said. “We will vigorously defend against the allegations of the lawsuit.”
Moderna said it had begun building up the technology in 2010 and patented work on coronaviruses in 2015 and 2016, which allowed for the roll-out of its shots in “record time” after the pandemic struck.
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It further said it pledged in October 2020 not to enforce its Covid-19-related patents while the pandemic continued, but less than two years later changed that stance as the fight shifted gears.
“Moderna expected companies such as Pfizer and BioNTech to respect its intellectual property rights and would consider a commercially reasonable licence should they request one for other markets,” it said.
In addition, Pfizer and BioNTech are already facing multiple lawsuits from other companies which say the partnership’s vaccine infringes on their patents.
Germany’s CureVac, for instance, also filed a lawsuit against BioNTech in Germany in July. BioNTech responded in a statement that its work was original.
Meanwhile, Moderna is also in a public dispute with US National Institute of Health (NIH) over rights to mRNA technology.
The vaccine maker is being sued by two biotech companies, Arbutus Biopharma and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, for the same thing it is claiming that Pfizer did, patent infringement. Those companies claim that Moderna used technology they developed to make lipid nanoparticles that are key to delivering the mRNA into cells.