Moderna sues Pfizer/BioNTech for patent infringement over COVID vaccine

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Moderna’s logo is reflected in a drop on a hypodermic needle in this illustration, taken Nov. 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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Aug 26 (Reuters) – Moderna on Friday sued Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for patent infringement in developing the first COVID-19 vaccine approved in the United States, alleging they copied technology that Moderna used years before its release. pandemic developed.

Shares of Pfizer fell nearly 1%, while US-listed BioNTech shares fell about 1.5% in early trading on Friday.

The lawsuit, seeking unspecified monetary damages, was filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. In a press release on Friday, Moderna said the lawsuit would also be filed in the Düsseldorf Regional Court in Germany.

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Contacted by Reuters, a spokesman for the Düsseldorf court said: “I am unable to confirm receipt of any such claim at this time.”

“We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform we pioneered, invested billions of dollars in creating and patenting during the decade leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Moderna Chief Executive Stephane Bancel in the press release.

Moderna said the lawsuit was not intended to deter people from getting vaccines.

Moderna Inc (MRNA.O), on its own, and the partnership of Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE (22UAy.DE) were two of the first groups to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Pfizer said the company was not being served and was unable to comment at this time. BioNTech did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Moderna, just ten years old, was an innovator in messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology that enabled the unprecedented speed in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

An approval process that previously took years was completed in months, thanks in large part to breakthroughs in mRNA vaccines, which teach human cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response.

Germany-based BioNTech also worked in this area when it partnered with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The US Food and Drug Administration first approved the use of the COVID-19 vaccine to Pfizer/BioNTech in December 2020 and then to Moderna a week later.

Moderna’s COVID vaccine – its only commercial product – has brought in $10.4 billion in revenue this year, while Pfizer’s vaccine brought in about $22 billion.

According to Cowen & Co analyst Tyler Van Buren, the lawsuit will likely take years.

Moderna alleges that Pfizer/BioNTech unauthorized copied mRNA technology that Moderna patented between 2010 and 2016, well before COVID-19 surfaced in 2019 and exploded into global consciousness in early 2020.

Early in the pandemic, Moderna said it would not enforce its COVID-19 patents to help others develop their own vaccines, especially for low- and middle-income countries. But in March 2022, Moderna said it expected companies like Pfizer and BioNTech to respect their intellectual property rights. It said it would not seek damages for any activity before March 8, 2022.

Patent litigation is not uncommon in the early stages of new technology.

Pfizer and BioNTech are already facing multiple lawsuits from other companies that say the collaboration’s vaccine infringes on their patents. Pfizer/BioNTech have said they will vigorously defend their patents.

In July, the German CureVac also filed a lawsuit against BioNTech in Germany. BioNTech responded in a statement that its work was original.

Moderna has also been sued for patent infringement in the United States and has an ongoing dispute with the US National Institutes of Health over rights to mRNA technology.

In Friday’s statement, Moderna said Pfizer/BioNTech has appropriated two types of intellectual property.

One involved an mRNA structure that Moderna scientists say began developing in 2010 and were the first to be validated in human trials in 2015.

“Pfizer and BioNTech took four different vaccine candidates into clinical trials, including options that would have departed from Moderna’s innovative path. However, Pfizer and BioNTech ultimately decided to go ahead with a vaccine that has the exact same chemical mRNA modification as its vaccine. ‘ said Moderna.

The second alleged breach involves the encoding of a full-length spike protein that Moderna scientists developed while making a vaccine for the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

While the MERS vaccine never made it to the market, its development has helped Moderna rapidly roll out its COVID-19 vaccine.

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Reporting by Daniel Trotta, additional reporting by Mrinalika Roy and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru and Zuzanna Szymanska in Berlin and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Caroline Humer, Edwina Gibbs and Howard Goller

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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