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Moderna sues Pfizer and BioNTech for patent infringement over COVID vaccine

Aug 26, 2022

Moderna has announced that it commenced proceedings against Pfizer and BioNTech in both the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany last Friday seeking damages for patent infringement relating to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine.  Interestingly, Moderna is not seeking injunctions.

The lawsuit is reported to be based on three patent families Moderna filed between 2011 and 2016.  The Moderna press release says:

“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. This groundbreaking technology was critical to the development of Moderna’s own mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax®. Pfizer and BioNTech copied this technology, without Moderna’s permission, to make Comirnaty®.”

This lawsuit is despite Moderna’s October 2020 pledge to not to enforce its COVID-19 related patents while the pandemic continued. This pledge was updated in March 2022, when “the collective fight against COVID-19 entered a new phase and vaccine supply was no longer a barrier to access in many parts of the world”.  Moderna’s position is now that “while it would never enforce its patents for any COVID-19 vaccine used in the 92 low- and middle-income countries in the GAVI COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC 92), Moderna expected companies such as Pfizer and BioNTech to respect its intellectual property rights and would consider a commercially reasonable license should they request one for other markets. Pfizer and BioNTech have failed to do so.

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