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COVID Vaccine Patent Infringement: Moderna Sues Pfizer/BioNTech

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On Friday, Moderna sued Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech or patent infringement in the development of the first COVID-19 vaccine approved in the United States. Moderna alleged that they had copied technology developed by it years before the pandemic.

The lawsuit, which seeks undetermined monetary damages, was filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. The suit also would be filed also in the Regional Court of Duesseldorf in Germany, Moderna said in a news release.

“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 Chief Executive Stephane Bancel said in the news release.

According to news agency Reuters, Moderna Inc on its own, and the partnership of Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE were two of the first groups to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, leading to a revenue windfall. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine first to Pfizer/BioNTech in December 2020, then one week later to Moderna.

Moderna’s COVID vaccine generated $10.4 billion in revenue this year while Pfizer’s vaccine brought in about $22 billion.

Pfizer said it will vigorously defend against the allegations. “We are surprised by the litigation given the COVID-19 vaccine was based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology and developed by both BioNTech and Pfizer,” a Pfizer spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

BioNTech called the lawsuit “unfortunate” and declared its work was original. “We will vigorously defend against all allegations of patent infringement,” the company said in a statement.

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