Moderna on Friday filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Pfizer and BioNTech over its mRNA technology, CNN reports.
Moderna accused the companies of “infringing patents central to (its) mRNA technology platform” in a press release on Friday.
"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," the news release said.
Pfizer has not been served and is “unable to comment at this time,” a spokesperson told CNN.
Government could be on the hook:
Moderna said it is not seeking to remove Pfizer’s vaccine from the market or prevent the sales of its vaccines.
The company is seeking damages but would not seek damages on the sale of vaccines in so-called AMC 92 countries, which make up low and middle-income countries.
“The U.S. government would be responsible for any damages” for the time period before March 8, 2022, the company said.
"Consistent with its commitment to equitable global access, in October 2020, Moderna pledged not to enforce its COVID-19 related patents while the pandemic continued. In March 2022, when the collective fight against COVID-19 entered a new phase and vaccine supply was no longer a barrier to access in many parts of the world, Moderna updated its pledge. It made clear that while it would never enforce its patents for any COVID-19 vaccine used in the 92 low- and middle-income countries in the GAVI COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC 92), 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 for other markets. Pfizer and BioNTech have failed to do so," the statement said.
Moderna accused Pfizer of launching a “vaccine that has the same exact mRNA chemical modification to its vaccine as Spikevax. Moderna scientists began developing this chemical modification that avoids provoking an undesirable immune response when mRNA is introduced into the body in 2010 and were the first to validate it in human trials in 2015."
Moderna also says "Pfizer and BioNTech copied Moderna's approach to encode for the full-length spike protein in a lipid nanoparticle formulation for a coronavirus. Moderna scientists developed this approach when they created a vaccine for the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) years before COVID-19 first emerged."