“Rivalry of Titans: Pfizer and BioNTech Throw Down the Gauntlet, Challenging Moderna’s COVID-19 Patents”
In a gripping showdown that could reshape the landscape of COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and its German collaborator BioNTech have launched a bold offensive. On a charged Monday, they formally petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to reconsider and, ultimately, invalidate Moderna’s patents surrounding crucial COVID-19 vaccine technologies. This electrifying move intensifies the legal clash between these industry giants, as reported by Reuters.
Unleashing an 87-page declaration, Pfizer and BioNTech delivered a scathing critique, asserting that Moderna’s patents exhibit an audacious overreach. The partners vehemently argued that these patents lay claim to knowledge that predates Moderna’s proclaimed priority date of 2015. The audacity of Moderna’s patent claims, which encompass mRNA sequences encoding betacoronavirus spike proteins and lipid-based delivery formulations, was portrayed as an attempt to monopolize the entire realm of mRNA technology.
Fanning the flames of this epic battle, Pfizer and BioNTech recounted that the process of injecting mRNA into cells to generate proteins, thus orchestrating the development of vaccines for immune defense, had already been spotlighted in the scientific literature during the 1990s. They rallied their case around the conviction that Moderna’s patent claims are “unimaginably broad” and stretch far beyond the boundaries of innovation.
In their riveting USPTO filing, Pfizer and BioNTech didn’t pull any punches. They boldly called for an inter partes review of Moderna’s patents, urging that the challenged claims be rendered unpatentable and eliminated from the playing field. This is a momentous step in the high-stakes drama playing out in the world of pharmaceutical patents.
The backdrop to this legal duel is Moderna’s August 2022 initiation of lawsuits against Pfizer and BioNTech, alleging patent infringement in relation to their Comirnaty vaccine. Moderna asserts that Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine shares critical elements of its own mRNA technology. The crosshairs are particularly focused on the mRNA chemical modification, a key ingredient that shapes both Spikevax and Comirnaty.
As the patent dispute rages on, the arena has expanded, drawing other companies into the ring. Promosome hurled its own legal salvos against both Moderna and Pfizer in June 2023, while Arbutus Biopharma entered the fray with a similar lawsuit against Pfizer and BioNTech in April 2023. This riveting saga, laden with intellectual property clashes and scientific innovation, promises to reshape the future of COVID-19 vaccines and the pharmaceutical landscape as a whole.