Dispute over Covid-19 patents
Biontech defends itself against Moderna lawsuit
08/28/2022, 4:46 p.m
The US biotech company Moderna is suing the corona vaccine manufacturer Biontech for patent infringement. It is about the new mRNA technology. The Mainz-based company wants to “decidedly defend itself against all allegations”.
Biontech has denied Moderna’s patent infringement allegations. Mainz and their US partner Pfizer were from Moderna on Friday been sued for damages. The accusation: When developing their vaccine, they copied technologies that Moderna developed years before the pandemic. Moderna and Biontech are considered pioneers in the new mRNA technology on which the corona vaccines of both sides are based and which brought them billions in revenue.
“Biontech’s work is original and we will vigorously defend against all allegations of patent infringement,” Biontech said. The company “respects the valid and enforceable intellectual property rights of others and believes in its own intellectual property.” However, it is not uncommon for other pharmaceutical companies to claim that their intellectual property rights may be infringed on a successful product such as the Comirnaty vaccine.
With the lawsuits, Moderna wants to protect its mRNA technology platform, which the company pioneered and invested billions of dollars in, said CEO Stephane Bancel. At the beginning of the pandemic, Moderna announced that it would not enforce its Covid-19 patents in order to support other companies in developing their own vaccines. In March, the group then specified its commitment: In the future, it should only apply to the 92 poorer countries within the framework of the international vaccination alliance Gavi. However, companies like Pfizer and Biontech could apply for a license for other markets. Both would not have done so, according to Moderna.
Meanwhile, Pfizer said it hasn’t fully reviewed the lawsuit, but was surprised by it. They will “vigorously defend themselves against the allegations of the lawsuit”.
Curevac is also complaining
Patent disputes are not uncommon for new technologies in the pharmaceutical industry. Biontech had also been working in the area of mRNA before merging with Pfizer for the Corona vaccine. The partners are already facing several lawsuits from other companies such as the Tübingen biotech company Curevac, which has also been working on a corona vaccine. Moderna has also been sued for patent infringement in the US and is in an ongoing legal battle with the National Institutes of Health over the rights to the mRNA technology.
Moderna’s Corona vaccine is the company’s only commercial product. So far this year, it has generated sales of $10.4 billion, compared to about $22 billion for Pfizer’s drug. According to experts, messenger RNA (mRNA)-based drugs could revolutionize the fight not only against Covid-19, but also against other future pandemics and even cancer. It conveys the information to the human cells for the production of proteins and thus for the fight against pathogens.