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Moderna sues Pfizer and BioNTech over patented mRNA technology used in covid-19 vaccine

The Massachusetts-based firm is suing the rival companies after alleging that they have continued to use technology that now requires licensing.

Moderna sues Pfizer and BioNTech over covid-19 vaccine

Moderna has launched a lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for alleged patent infringement in relation to the covid-19 vaccine developed. The UK firm claims that Pfizer and BioNTech utilised technology patented by Moderna years before the pandemic.

The lawsuit was filed jointly in a Massachusetts district court and a regional court in Dusseldorf, Germany.

A news release from the company reads: “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.”

Will this lawsuit stop Pfizer and BioNTech from producing covid-19 vaccines?

Coronavirus restrictions have eased throughout 2022 to the point where society has essentially returned to pre-pandemic conditions, but as we head towards the winter months there is concern that the cold weather could bring a resurgence in the virus.

Earlier this week it was announced that the United States would be rolling out an updated version of the covid-19 booster vaccine to better protect against Omicron and other variants. With this in mind, is there any danger that the lawsuit to curb the distribution of the life-saving shots?

The press release from Moderna made clear that the company was not aiming to impose a blanket ban on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or to prevent future sales. However it does state that they believe the fight against covid-19 has “entered a new phase” in which “vaccine supply is no longer a barrier to access in many parts of the world.”

The statement reads: “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… Pfizer and BioNTech have failed to do so.”

The point of contention is the use of mRNA technology which allowed developers to create a vaccine effective against covid-19 in record time. That technology, Moderna claim, was developed by their scientists many years before covid-19, to protect against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Moderna has said that it will not seek damages for any activity before 8 March 2022, the point at which the company judges that the availability of covid-19 stopped being a limiting factor.


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