Moderna Files Lawsuit Against Pfizer and BioNTech Over COVID-19 Vaccines

·1 min read
A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine and syringes sit prepared at a pop up vaccine clinic at the Jewish Community Center on April 16, 2021 in the Staten Island borough of New York City.
A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine and syringes sit prepared at a pop up vaccine clinic at the Jewish Community Center on April 16, 2021 in the Staten Island borough of New York City.

Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty

Moderna is suing Pfizer and BioNTech over allegations that the biopharmaceutical companies copied their mRNA technology in COVID-19 vaccines without permission.

In a news release Friday, the Cambridge, Massachusetts company stated they plan to file patent infringement lawsuits against Pfizer in the United States District Court of Massachusetts and their German partner BioNTech in the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany.

"We believe that Pfizer and BioNTech unlawfully copied Moderna's inventions, and they have continued to use them without permission," said Moderna Chief Legal Officer Shannon Thyme Klinger.

Klinger continued by saying Moderna expects Pfizer and BioNTech to compensate the company for what he claims are patented technologies. He says a protected patent system "rewards and protects innovation."

MADRID, SPAIN - 2021/07/21: In this photo illustration vials of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for coronavirus treatment. Spain has exceeded 50% of the population vaccinated with the full schedule against COVID-19. (Photo Illustration by Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - 2021/07/21: In this photo illustration vials of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for coronavirus treatment. Spain has exceeded 50% of the population vaccinated with the full schedule against COVID-19. (Photo Illustration by Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty

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In a statement to PEOPLE, Pfizer said: "Pfizer/BioNTech has not yet fully reviewed the complaint, but we are surprised by the litigation given the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was based on BioNTech's proprietary mRNA technology and developed by both BioNTech and Pfizer."

They added, "We remain confident in our intellectual property supporting the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and will vigorously defend against the allegations of the lawsuit."

Moderna said they do not intend on removing the Pfizer vaccine, called Comirnaty, from the market, acknowledging that everyone needs access to these life-saving vaccines, but alleges Pfizer and BioNTech copied two key features of the company's patented technologies to develop their own.

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"We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneers, invested billions of dollars in creating, and patented during the decade preceding the COVID-19 pandemic," said Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel.