Moderna sued over COVID vax patent misuse

March 2, 2022

Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences are taking Moderna to court, claiming Moderna misused patented technology to create a COVID-19 vaccine in “record time.”

Arbutus and Genevant filed a patent-infringement lawsuit in Delaware federal court, saying that Moderna’s rapid transition from “lab bench to [patient] arms” was possible because of Moderna’s use of revolutionary liquid nanoparticle technology that Arbutus had already created and patented. Genevant, formed in 2018 by Roivant and Arbutus, licenses Arbutus’ LNP technology.

In response, Moderna defended itself and denied the claims. The company said its COVID-19 vaccine, called Spikevax, was the result of years of research and hard work from Moderna’s scientists who created their own LNP technology, according to Bloomberg Law.

Noting the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine, Arbutus and Genevant did not ask for an injunction, or anything else that could get in the way of vaccine sales or distribution. Instead, the companies want Moderna to pay up and are asking for damages

Arbutus and Genevant aren’t the only ones who have a bone to pick with Moderna over vaccine rights and the lawsuit did not come as a total shock — even prior to the release of Spikevax, Moderna admitted that it may not have exclusive rights to the technology that was used to develop the vaccine.

Back in November, the National Institutes of Health claimed it should share credit for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine due to the agency’s four-year collaboration with the Massachusetts-based pharma company in designing the vaccine. The NIH argued that three of its scientists worked with Moderna scientists to design the vaccine, specifically the genetic sequence that causes an immune response, and should therefore be named on the principal patent application.

Then in December, a patent court said Arbutus’ LNP patents, many of which were filed before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, were valid despite Moderna’s appeal.