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Moderna sues Pfizer/BioNTech for patent infringement over COVID vaccine

Moderna on Friday filed a suit against Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, claiming that their COVID-19 vaccine copied Moderna’s technology, according to The New York Times.

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According to the company, Pfizer and BioNTech infringed on patents that Moderna filed between 2010 and 2016 that covered its messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

Messenger RNA carries DNA instructions to each cell, telling it how to make proteins that block viruses. Both Moderna and Pfizer used mRNA technology to produce coronavirus vaccines.

“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,” said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive officer.

“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.”

Moderna said in 2020 that while the pandemic was raging, it would not enforce the patents on the technology it used to create the vaccine. Last March, the company issued a statement saying that manufacturers who are not based in low- or middle-income countries would have to begin to respect the company’s patents.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts and the Regional Court of Dusseldorf in Germany, Moderna said in a news release on Friday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first granted emergency authorization use to Pfizer/BioNTech’s version of the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, and did the same for Moderna a week later.

A Pfizer spokesperson said the company had not yet been served with the suit and had no comment.

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