Biotech company Moderna is suing rival Pfizer and German Biontech for patent infringement in developing coronavirus vaccines.
Moderna claims Pfizer/Biontech copied mRNA technology they developed themselves several years before the pandemic, the company says in press release.
The patents in question were registered in 2010 and 2016.
– We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform we’ve created, invested billions of dollars in creating and patented in the decade leading up to the covid-19 pandemic, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel.
The lawsuit was filed in a district court in the state of Massachusetts in the United States and in a regional court in Düsseldorf, Germany.
This technique involves using a synthetic mRNA to mimic the surface of the virus and training the immune system to recognize and neutralize it. Pfizer and Moderna used pioneering technology to develop coronavirus vaccines at record speed in pandemic year 2020.
The Pfizer/Biontech vaccine was first approved for use on the Norwegian market in December 2020. Shortly thereafter, Moderna’s vaccine was also approved for use in Norway.
It is not known how much money Moderna wants, but the company says it will not seek compensation from sales to the 92 low- and middle-income countries that received vaccines through the Covax collaboration.
Pfizer and Biontech have not yet commented on the lawsuit.
Commitments updated in March
Moderna also does not want to remove Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine from the market. Moderna committed in October 2020 not to enforce its patents during the pandemic, so that people can have quick access to the vaccine around the world, according to the press release.
In March 2022, they updated their commitments so that worldwide access to vaccines is no longer an obstacle, according to the company. But Pfizer and Biontech did not respect Moderna’s intellectual property rights after that.
Therefore, Moderna will not seek compensation for sales prior to March 8, 2022.
We believe that Pfizer and Biontech have illegally copied Moderna’s inventions, and continued to use them without permission, the statement says.
The turnover is 210 billion NOK
Moderna was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2010, the same year the technology was first patented. The Corona vaccine is the only commercial product they sell, according to Reuters news agency.
This year, sales of the Corona vaccine Moderna amounted to $ 10.4 billion, equivalent to about 100 billion Norwegian kroner, while sales of the Pfizer vaccine are more than double that – $ 22 billion, or about 210 billion kroner.
Reuters writes that patent legal procedures are not unusual in the initial phase of new technology. Pfizer and Biontech already have several other lawsuits against them from other companies they believe have infringed their patent rights. Pfizer and Biontech previously said they would defend their patents on their teeth and nails.
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