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vax war

Moderna sues Pfizer for allegedly copying its COVID-19 vaccine technology

Moderna is taking Pfizer and BioNTech to court, accusing the rival drugmakers of patent infringement over their COVID-19 vaccine. 

The company said Friday it has filed patent infringement lawsuits against Pfizer and BioNTech in Massachusetts and in Germany, alleging the companies copied its mRNA technology to develop their own coronavirus vaccine and thereby infringed on patents filed by Moderna between 2010 and 2016. 

"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," Moderna 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."

In 2020, Moderna pledged not to enforce patents related to COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic. By March 2022, though, the company said it "expects those using Moderna-patented technologies will respect the company's intellectual property."

On Friday, Moderna said it has offered to consider a "commercially reasonable license" but that Pfizer and BioNTech have not requested one. The company also said it will "never enforce its patents" for COVID-19 vaccine technology in low-and-middle-income countries. 

Moderna is not asking for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to be removed from the marketplace or seeking damages from prior to March 2022. But Moderna Chief Legal Officer Shannon Thyme Klinger said it expects Pfizer and BioNTech "to compensate Moderna" for the "ongoing use of Moderna's patented technologies."