CureVac is suing BioNTech for stealing mRNA vaccine technology. After trying to create its own COVID-19 vaccine, CureVac is bringing four patent infringement claims against fellow German mRNA pioneer BioNTech.
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CureVac is still vying for market share a year after its COVID-19 vaccine contender had a high-profile failure.
On Monday, the business said that it is suing fellow German mRNA pioneer BioNTech for violating its intellectual property by creating the COVID shot Comirnaty in collaboration with Pfizer.
The manufacturing, marketing, or distribution of BioNTech’s wildly successful vaccine will not be hampered by an injunction, according to CureVac. Instead, the Tubingen-based business demands credit and payment for the technology it created—starting with work completed more than 20 years ago—which it claims was crucial to BioNTech’s development of its successful shot.
“There’s a piece of IP which we think has been used. That’s OK. We’re not against using it, especially in a pandemic,” CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas said in an interview. “We just want to have this piece of contribution to be recognized.”
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The lawsuit names four patents related to the engineering of mRNA molecules, including “sequence modifications to increase stability and enhance protein expression, as well as mRNA vaccine formulations specific to SARS CoV-2 vaccines,” according to a release from CureVac. The lawsuit was filed in German regional court in Dusseldorf, where BioNTech is rooted.
A corporate spokesperson for BioNTech told Reuters on Wednesday that the company is “looking at all legal options,” as a reaction.
A statement was also published on the company’s website.
“BioNTech’s work is original, and we will vigorously defend it against all allegations of patent infringement,” the company wrote. “However, we are aware that it is not unusual that other companies in the pharmaceutical industry, having witnessed the success of Comirnaty, are now suggesting that the vaccine potentially infringes their intellectual property rights.”
Haas declined to respond when asked if CureVac might have a case against Moderna and its mRNA vaccine.
This is not the first time that BionTech has been accused of violating a patent while creating Comirnaty. The firm and Pfizer were sued in October 2020 by San Diego-based Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals for allegedly utilizing the its mNeonGreen fluorescent protein to evaluate their vaccine.
Additionally, Allele filed a lawsuit against Regeneron for alleged COVID-19 antibody development infringement. In January of this year, Pfizer and BioNTech reached a settlement. The legal battle with Regeneron is still pending.
Then, in March 2022, Massachusetts-based Alnylam filed a lawsuit against Pfizer and Moderna, claiming that it had developed the delivery system used in both companies’ COVID-19 shots more than ten years prior.
Three weeks before to that assertion, two businesses—Arbutus Biopharma of Vancouver and Genevant Sciences of Cambridge, Massachusetts—had launched a lawsuit against Moderna, alleging that the latter had also used the lipid nanoparticle delivery technique that they had invented ten years prior.
A deal with the European Union to provide 405 million doses of CureVac’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate was facilitated with the assistance of big pharma partner Bayer because it was thought to be so promising. However, a late-stage trial revealed that CVnC had a 47 percent effectiveness rate.
A second-generation COVID-19 vaccine known as CV2CoV has recently been in development (read below) by CureVac and GSK.
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