Moderna Therapeutics is suing Covid Pharmaceuticals for infringing on patents related to its drug, Moderna’s lead product. The company believes the complaint will help them stay ahead in a competitive market where their competitors are trying to undercut costs and prices with generic versions of their drugs.
Moderna is suing Covid, a company that provides cloud-based software for managing and storing digital assets. Moderna alleges that Covid’s software infringes on its patents.
Moderna Inc. is fighting charges that its Covid-19 vaccine infringes on competing firms’ patents, claiming that the companies may only pursue their claims if they want payments from the federal government.
Moderna submitted a petition to dismiss some of the patent-infringement allegations in the action, which was brought in federal court in Delaware in February by two tiny biotech businesses, Arbutus Biopharma Corp. and Genevant Sciences GmbH.
It’s the latest development in a series of high-stakes legal disputes between corporations and the government over Covid-19 vaccine patents.
In their case, Arbutus and Genevant claimed that Moderna’s vaccine contains components protected by their patents, and they are demanding royalties from Moderna’s multibillion-dollar sales. The patents cover lipid nanoparticles, which wrap the vaccine’s genetic material, messenger RNA, and help it enter into human cells after injection.
Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, claims that their vaccine does not infringe on the patents since it use its own patented lipid nanoparticle technology.
Even if Moderna had violated the patents, federal patent law shields government contractors from some patent-infringement actions, according to the recent court filing. If a patent holder feels a product created for the government by a contractor infringes on the patent, the law compels the patent holder to file a claim against the US in the US Court of Federal Claims.
Because the US government isn’t often the single, direct purchaser of medications and vaccines, the clause normally applies to military contractors rather than pharmaceutical corporations.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, however, the federal government was the only purchaser of doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in the United States, and has been providing them to vaccination recipients at no cost since late 2020. Moderna provided 332 million vaccine doses to the government for distribution in 2021, generating $5.4 billion in income in the United States.
Moderna is requesting that the lawsuit’s claims for royalties on its Covid-19 vaccine doses sold to the US government be dismissed. Instead, Arbutus and Genevant should sue the federal government in the United States Court of Federal Claims, according to Moderna.
Moderna stated in a statement that “this legislation offers crucial statutory protection for approved government suppliers and played a vital role in encouraging enterprises, including Moderna, to step up and assist the Government battle the Covid-19 outbreak.”
Even if Arbutus and Genevant pursued claims against the US government, Moderna’s vaccine does not infringe on the patents, according to the business.
Moderna’s request to dismiss the patent claims has been denied by Genevant. In a statement, Genevant stated, “Rather than react to the substance of our allegations, Moderna is attempting to transfer accountability for its patent infringement to the American taxpayer.”
Because Moderna got significant governmental financing for their vaccine, its decision to transfer possible culpability to the government may be criticized.
According to a securities filing, Moderna has received at least $1.7 billion from the government Biomedical Advanced Research Research Authority to support the vaccine’s development in addition to the vaccine supply contracts.
Moderna has worked together with experts from the National Institutes of Health on the development and testing of their Covid-19 vaccine.
Last year, the business faced fire for refusing to credit NIH experts as inventors on a patent application for its vaccine in the United States. Moderna later abandoned the patent application, citing the importance of its collaboration with the NIH.
Moderna said in March that it would never use its own vaccine-related patents to prevent others from producing the doses in more than 90 low- and middle-income nations, but that it was ready to start pursuing its rights in richer countries.
Peter Loftus can be reached at [email protected]
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