Moderna is suing fellow vaccine developers Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for patent infringement related to the mRNA technology used in their COVID-19 vaccine, The company announced on Friday,
According to a Moderna news release, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company claims that Pfizer-BioNtech’s vaccine community infringed a patent related to its mRNA technology between 2010 and 2016.
“We believe that Pfizer and BioNTech illegally copied Moderna’s inventions, and they have continued to use them without permission,” said Moderna’s chief legal officer, Shannon Thyme Klinger.
Moderna said the lawsuit against Pfizer was to be filed Friday in United States District Court in Massachusetts. The complaint against BioNTech will be filed in the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany.
Pfizer spokeswoman Jerrika Pitts said the companies have not yet fully reviewed the complaint, but they are “surprised by the lawsuit” and plan to “vigorously defend against the allegations of the lawsuit.” Their COVID-19 vaccine, he said, was based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology.
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Moderna alleges that Pfizer and BioNTech copied two key features of the company’s patented technologies, which they say are “critical to the success of mRNA vaccines.”
One of the patented technologies was chemical modification that helps avoid unwanted immune responses when mRNA is introduced into the body. According to the news release, scientists at Cambridge began developing the new modification in 2010 and were the first to validate it in human trials in 2015.
Moderna also claims that Pfizer and BioNTech’s approach to encoding the spike protein into a lipid molecule was copied from a vaccine created to fight Middle East respiratory syndrome years before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company said that Pfizer and BioNTech had four vaccine candidates that did not infringe Moderna’s patents, but ultimately decided to go with a single vaccine.
In the news release, Moderna said it had pledged not to enforce COVID-19-related patents during the pandemic in October 2020, but in March 2022 “the collective fight against COVID-19 entered a new phase and Vaccine supply was no longer a constraint”.
The company said it would not enforce its COVID-19 vaccine patents in low- and middle-income countries, but expects Pfizer, BioNtech and other vaccine makers to honor its intellectual property rights in other markets.
in a COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA prompts cells to make proteins normally found on the surface of coronaviruses. That way, when the immune system sees the actual virus, it recognizes the protein and attacks the virus before it can do serious damage.
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COVID-19 vaccines depend on successes Scientists from the National Institutes of Health How to precisely copy the protein of a virus. Two vaccines now available to Americans by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech, both rely on that advancement.
The company said that no patent rights Moderna is seeking to apply to intellectual property generated during its collaboration with the NIH during the pandemic.
Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephan Bansell said, “We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneer, invest billions of dollars in building, and have been working since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Patents over the course of the decade.”
“Moderna is not seeking the removal of Comirnati from the market or an injunction against future sales,” the new release said.
To date, more than 360 million doses of Pfizer-BioNtech’s COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the US; According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 230 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine have been given.
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