Moderna on Friday sued Pfizer and BioNTech, claiming that their Covid vaccine copied its groundbreaking technology.
Moderna said in a statement that Pfizer and BioNTech infringed on patents filed between 2010 and 2016 that covered its mRNA technology.
Moderna, which is based in Cambridge, Mass., sued in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts and the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany, where BioNTech is based.
Messenger RNA, or mRNA, is the genetic script that carries DNA instructions to each cell’s protein-making machinery and has been used in the production of 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. “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, which accepted $2.5 billion in taxpayer money to develop its Covid-19 vaccine, had said in 2020 that it would not enforce its Covid-related patents while the pandemic continues. But in March, the company said it expected that manufacturers that are not based in or producing in low- or middle-income countries would respect the company’s intellectual property.
Moderna on Friday said that it was not seeking damages for activities before March 8 and that it was not seeking to remove Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccines from the market and that it was not asking for an injunction to prevent its future sale, given the need for access to coronavirus vaccines.
Jerica Pitts, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, said on Friday morning that the company had not been served with a suit and was “unable to comment at this time.”