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Moderna suing rivals over COVID-19 vaccine
Pic: Shutterstock

26 Aug 2022 / covid-19 Print

Moderna suing rivals over COVID-19 vaccine

Pharmaceutical company Moderna has announced that it is suing rivals Pfizer and BioNTech over their COVID-19 vaccine.

The lawsuits have been filed in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany.

In a statement, Moderna said that it believed that the vaccine developed by the two partner companies infringed patents covering mRNA technology that it filed between 2010 and 2016.

The US company described the technology as “critical” to the development of its own COVID-19 vaccine, and accused Pfizer and BioNTech of copying this technology, without permission.

No injunction sought

It added, however, that it was not seeking to remove the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from the market, nor was it asking for any injunction to prevent its future sale.

"We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneered, invested billions of dollars in creating, and patented during the decade preceding the COVID-19 pandemic," said Moderna chief executive Stéphane Bancel.

He said that Moderna’s work in previous years had allowed it to produce a COVID-19 vaccine “in record time” after the pandemic struck, and that it was using mRNA technology to develop drugs that could treat and prevent a range of other infectious, auto-immune, and cardiovascular diseases.

Pandemic pledge

The company had pledged, in October 2020, not to enforce its COVID-related patents while the pandemic continued.

In March 2022, however, it changed its position, saying that, while it would never enforce its patents for any COVID-19 vaccine used in 92 low- and middle-income [AMC 92] countries, it expected others to “respect its intellectual-property rights”, and would consider a “commercially reasonable” licence for other markets.

Moderna said that Pfizer and BioNTech had failed to seek such licences.

The company stated, however, that it was not seeking damages for vaccine sales to the AMC 92 countries, nor for any activities occurring before 8 March 2022.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland