Alnylam to appeal COVID-19 vaccine patent ruling in Moderna case

As Alnylam persists in its COVID-19 patent litigation, the RNAi specialist has been dealt a blow in one of its lawsuits against Moderna.

After the Delaware federal court issued a ruling on certain patent claims, Alnylam and Moderna agreed to a final judgment of non-infringement, Alnylam said in a recent statement. But Alnylam said it “respectfully disagrees” with the ruling and pledged to appeal.

Alnylam originally filed the lawsuit last March. It's just one of several cases the company has brought against COVID-19 vaccine juggernauts Moderna and Pfizer. In the case, it seeks “reasonable compensation” for alleged patent infringement.

Specifically, Alnylam accused Moderna of utilizing its lipid nanoparticle delivery technology that the biotech created for its RNAi drug Onpattro, which treats the rare condition of hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis.

Moderna called the accusation “blatant opportunism” and said that it discovered years ago that such lipids wouldn’t work for delivering mRNA directly into the arm.

Aside from this case, Alnylam has filed other lawsuits against Moderna and Pfizer. Last July, the company claimed violations on a patent it had just received. Moderna responded to those claims with a countersuit earlier this summer, asserting that Alnylam played “no role in Moderna’s significant accomplishments” and “baselessly seeks to profit” off of its inventions. 

The latest suit, which Alnylam pursued in May, accused Moderna of stepping on three patents and Pfizer of infringing four. The company again sought “reasonable royalty” for the alleged damages.

"Alnylam strongly believes in the strength of its patents and its cases against both Moderna and Pfizer and will continue its efforts to have its claims heard before a jury at trial," the company said in its Monday statement.

Even as the COVID-19 vaccine market approaches a new era, many patent cases around the globe continue to drag on.

CureVac last month added a tenth patent to its litigation against BioNTech and Pfizer in the U.S., plus three more to its case in Germany. The U.S. case recently moved to the Eastern District of Virginia, which CureVac said should “significantly accelerate” the process and could allow for a 2024 trial.

Moderna itself is in a legal battle with Pfizer and BioNTech. Last month, the company filed new lawsuits in Ireland and Belgium.