Moderna is suing competitors Pfizer and BioNTech over mRNA Covid vaccines

Moderna has sued Pfizer and BioNTech SE, claiming the technology in their Covid-19 vaccine infringes their patents, a move that sets the stage for a massive legal battle between the vaccine titans.

oderna accused Pfizer and BioNTech of infringing intellectual property rights on key elements of their messenger RNA technology while developing the Comirnaty vaccine. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna said it had patents on the mRNA technology that made its Spikevax shot possible from 2010 to 2016, but that the other two companies copied the technology without permission.

Pfizer and BioNTech “entered four different candidates into clinical testing, including options that would have avoided Moderna’s innovative path by using unmodified mRNA,” according to a lawsuit filed in US District Court in Massachusetts. “Ultimately, however, Pfizer and BioNTech discarded these alternatives and copied Moderna’s patented technology.”

Moderna announced that it would also sue in Germany. Pfizer and BioNTech have yet to fully review the U.S. lawsuit, but are “surprised” by the litigation and will “vehemently defend each other,” according to an emailed statement.

Pfizer shares are down 1.1 percent as of 10:31 am New York, while BioNTech’s American Depositary Receipts are down 2.3 percent. Moderna shares lost 1.7 percent.

Moderna’s lawsuit against Pfizer-BioNTech is not surprising given the broad US patents directed to its mRNA technology, although they may be vulnerable to invalidation given current trends in written description and enabling case law. Pfizer-BioNTech could be liable for at least mid-single-digit royalties on past and future sales of Covid vaccines if Moderna is successful.

Moderna said it is not asking the courts to withdraw the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine from the market or block future sales. The company is seeking damages beginning March 8 this year and says it will not seek damages for Pfizer’s sales in 92 low- and middle-income countries. Moderna is suing competitors Pfizer and BioNTech over mRNA Covid vaccines

Fry Electronics Team

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