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Moderna sues Pfizer and BioNTech alleging patent infringement over Covid vaccine

"We believe that Pfizer and BioNTech unlawfully copied Moderna’s inventions, and they have continued to use them without permission,” Moderna's chief legal officer said.
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Moderna said Friday that it is suing Pfizer and BioNTech, alleging that the two companies copied Moderna's technology to make their Covid vaccine Comirnaty.

"We believe that Pfizer and BioNTech unlawfully copied Moderna's inventions, and they have continued to use them without permission," Moderna Chief Legal Officer Shannon Thyme Klinger said in a statement.

The patent infringement lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany, according to a news release.

Moderna said it filed patents from 2010 to 2016 for its mRNA technology, which was critical in the company's creation of its own Covid vaccine. The company alleges that Pfizer and BioNTech then copied that same technology for Comirnaty.

"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," the company's CEO, Stéphane Bancel, said.

"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."

Bancel said the company is continuing to use the technology to develop treatments for influenza and HIV, as well as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and rare forms of cancer.

The company does not want Comirnaty removed from the market but wants Pfizer and BioNTech to compensate Moderna for using two key features of its mRNA technology, according to the news release.

When creating the vaccine, Pfizer and BioNTech allegedly used the same mRNA chemical modification as Moderna and copied Moderna's "encode for the full-length spike protein in a lipid nanoparticle formulation for a coronavirus."

Klinger said that "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 denied Moderna's claims, saying in a statement Friday that Comirnaty 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 company said.