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Rebecca Lumley
6 Jul 2022

CureVac files patent infringement lawsuit against BioNTech over mRNA technology

Company is seeking ‘fair compensation’ for alleged infringement of intellectual property rights relating to the use of mRNA tech to create the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

CureVac has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Germany against BioNTech over its use of messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, some of which was used to develop the Comirnaty coronavirus vaccine. 

The German biopharma company filed the lawsuit against BioNTech SE and two of its subsidiaries in a Düsseldorf court, seeking ‘fair compensation for infringement of a portfolio of CureVac’s intellectual property rights’.  

Speaking in a media call, CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas said the company was not ruling out further legal action against BioNTech partner Pfizer or rival mRNA vaccine maker Moderna.  

BioNTech claims its work is original and said it would ‘vigorously defend it against all allegations of patent infringement’. The company also noted that it was ‘not unusual’ for companies to make such a claim, given the global success of the Comirnaty vaccine.  

CureVac says its claim is based on ‘proprietary foundational technology related to mRNA design, delivery and manufacturing’ developed by the company over the course of 22 years and claims this technology ‘materially contributed to the development of safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines.’  

In a statement on Tuesday, CureVac said it was the ‘earliest pioneer in mRNA technology’ and called for its intellectual property rights to be ‘acknowledged and respected in the form of fair compensation.’ The company also clarified that it was not seeking an injunction, nor intended to take legal action that would impede the production, sale or distribution of the Comirnaty vaccine. 

The company did not disclose a sum they would consider as fair compensation.  

This marks the second patent infringement lawsuit impacting a Pfizer-produced drug for use against COVID-19, after Enanta Pharmaceuticals announced legal action over the oral antiviral Paxlovid last month. 

Rebecca Lumley
Digital Editor - Pharma

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