Moderna Countersued over COVID-19 Vaccine Patents

American pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech SE, have filed a countersuit against Moderna, another American pharma giant, on the contention that they did not infringe on Moderna’s patents. They are seeking dismissal of the lawsuit and an order that Moderna’s patents are invalid and not infringed.

This is in response to the suit filed by Moderna on August 26, 2022, against Pfizer and BioNTech on patent infringement claims in the United States District Court of Massachusetts. Moderna claimed that Pfizer and BioNTech manufactured and sold their COVID-19 vaccines infringing three of Moderna’s patents because the vaccines they developed used Moderna-developed and patented technology. Moderna also claimed that the defendants were aware that they were utilising its innovations. They were further aware that the two critical features the Defendants chose to copy were essential to the success of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was prevailing, the Plaintiff had decided not to act against the alleged infringement. However, in early 2022, when COVID-19 entered an endemic phase and global vaccine coverage improved, Moderna expected that Pfizer and BioNTech would respect Moderna’s IP and consider the possibility of a licence agreement for its use. Plaintiff further stated that their mRNA technology was based on three patents in the name of Moderna and, therefore, claimed damages for any revenue earned by the Defendants in selling and manufacturing their Covid-19 vaccines.

Subsequently, the Defendants, Pfizer and BioNTech, filed a suit in the District Court of Massachusetts on December 5, 2022, denying the allegations put forth by Moderna. The counterclaim Plaintiffs claimed that independent research was done at BioNTech, Pfizer, and Moderna, which paved the way for two different mRNA vaccines. It was also claimed that Moderna was taking credit for a broad discovery it did not invent and that the Counterclaim Plaintiffs were unaware of the discovery made by Moderna. They further denied that any of their COVID-19 vaccines made use of Moderna’s patented technology; therefore, a license was unnecessary.

It was also claimed that the US Federal government provided funding for developing Moderna’s vaccines, which would give the government certain rights in the subsequent patents, which Moderna failed to disclose. Finally, the counterclaim Plaintiffs asserted that the three patents in Moderna’s name with respect to mRNA technology were invalid and that there was no infringement upon any of the intellectual property rights of Moderna.

Presently, a jury trial has been demanded by the parties to adjudicate whether there has been an infringement on Moderna’s patents.