Moderna on Friday said that it has sued Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for patent infringement in the development of the first COVID-19 vaccine approved in the United States,
The company alleged that Pfitzer and BioNTech copied technology that it developed years before the pandemic, adding that the vaccine infringes the patent it filed between 2010 and 2016 “covering Moderna’s foundational mRNA technology,” including two “key features” that were critical to the success of mRNA vaccines.
The lawsuit which seeks undetermined monetary damages was filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts and in the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany.
Moderna in the law suit said that Pfitzer and BioNTech “knowingly followed Moderna’s lead in developing their own vaccine.”
“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,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.
“This foundational platform, which we began building in 2010, along with our patented work on coronaviruses in 2015 and 2016, enabled us to produce a safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccine in record time after the pandemic struck.”
“It made clear 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,” the company said in a press release.
However, Moderna said that Pfitzer and BioNTech “failed” in this regard.
“We believe that Pfizer and BioNTech unlawfully copied Moderna’s inventions and they have continued to use them without permission,” said Moderna Chief Legal Officer Shannon Thyme Klinger. “Outside of AMC 92 countries, where vaccine supply is no longer a barrier to access, Moderna expects Pfizer and BioNTech to compensate Moderna for Comirnaty’s ongoing use of Moderna’s patented technologies.”
Pfizer shares fell nearly 1.33% to $47.27, while BioNTech U.S.-listed shares were down about 2.13% to $145.5 and Moderna shares slipped 2.03% to $139.17 on Friday at the time of this report.
In an emailed statement to Reuters, a Pfizer spokesperson said: “Pfizer/BioNTech has not yet fully reviewed the complaint but we are surprised by the litigation given the COVID-19 vaccine was based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology and developed by both BioNTech and Pfizer.”
“We remain confident in our intellectual property supporting the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and will vigorously defend against the allegations of the lawsuit,” the spokesperson said.
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.