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Covid Patent Wars: Where have all the Patent Heroes Gone?

covid patent wars

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Today’s IP Headlines

It’s been just a few years since the covid pandemic hit, and we’re already seeing patent wars erupting between some of the biggest players in the vaccine race. Moderna has just filed suit against Pfizer and BioNTech, alleging that they infringed on its patents.

That’s right, it’s all over the news today:  

  • Moderna sues Pfizer and BioNTech over Covid-19 vaccine
  • Covid-19 vaccine companies wage legal patent war
  • Clash of the titans: Moderna sues Pfizer, BioNTech for mRNA

You heard right:  Moderna just filed a lawsuit against Pfizer and BioNTech for allegedly infringing on its patents.

Moderna alleged that the companies infringed on its patents related to mRNA technology. Moderna alleges that the companies’ Covid-19 vaccine uses similar technology to its own mRNA vaccine, which is protected by patents. Both vaccines use mRNA, or messenger RNA, in groundbreaking developments that changed the fight against Covid-19. 

“Before the emergence of Covid-19, unlike Moderna, neither Pfizer nor BioNTech had ever developed an mRNA vaccine for a coronavirus,” the complaint states. 

The covid-19 pandemic has brought many challenges, but one of the most unexpected has been the sudden need for vaccines. In response, two companies have stepped up to dominate the market: Moderna and Pfizer. Both companies have been successful in securing contracts and delivering their products to consumers. 

However, this peaceful reign came to an end on Friday when Moderna filed patent infringement lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany against Pfizer and its partner BioNTech. 

The Impact of  Covid Patent Wars

The patent wars are a sign of just how competitive the covid vaccine market has become. With billions of dollars at stake, companies are increasingly willing to use their patents to gain an edge.

The patent wars are also a sign of how important patents have become in the Covid vaccine race. In the past, patents were often seen as a hindrance to innovation, because they could be used to stifle competition. But in the Covid era, patents have become a key tool for companies to protect their investments and ensure that their products are not copied.

The covid-19 pandemic has brought many challenges, but this latest development highlights the importance of intellectual property rights in the fight for vaccines.

But what about our Covid Patent Heroes?

In April 2020 I blogged and posted about our Covid Patent Heroes. Patent and technology owners who vowed to share their intellectual property with others in the fight to slow the spread of Covid.

Even Moderna in 2020 said it would not enforce the patents.

The decision aimed at helping vaccine distribution, particularly in middle- and low-income countries. 

The company reiterated that promise in March of this year, and its lawsuit states that it does not relate to patents generated during Moderna’s collaboration with the National Institutes of Health during the pandemic. 

The same does not go, however, for direct competitors…

Although Moderna is not seeking to remove Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine from the market. 

It also isn’t targeting competitor’s sales in low- and middle-income countries.

But in developed markets, Moderna says it expects mRNA rivals to “respect its intellectual property rights and would consider a commercially reasonable license.” Pfizer and BioNTech have “failed” to seek such a license, the company argues.

It remains to be seen how this legal battle will play out, but it is clear that the issue of Covid patents is a complex and controversial one.

The covid patent wars are likely to continue as more companies enter the vaccine race. And as the stakes get higher, we can expect to see more companies using their patents to gain an advantage.

What do you think of the covid patent wars? Are they a sign of a healthy market or a dangerous trend? Let us know in the comments.

Do you have questions about patent protection? Hop on my calendar at

About Sagacity Legal:
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