Moderna loses a COVID vaccine patent in Europe amid heated clash with BioNTech, Pfizer

With litigation spanning many countries, the COVID-19 vaccine giants remain engaged in a heated patent war. In the latest twist, Pfizer’s Comirnaty partner BioNTech chalked up a win as the European Patent Office (EPO) snatched back one of Moderna’s patents, ruling it invalid.

The patent in question protects “respiratory virus vaccines,” according to its listing in the European Patent Register. Opposers to the patent include BioNTech and Pfizer, as well as Sanofi, the listing notes.

BioNTech “understands and welcomes” the EPO’s decision, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. According to BioNTech, none of the more than 100 auxiliary requests that Moderna filed with amended claims were deemed sufficient to keep the patent in an amended form.

The decision "is an important one as we believe that this and others of Moderna’s patents do not meet the requirements for grant and should never have been granted,” the company added.

Meanwhile, Moderna “disagrees” with the EPO’s decision, a spokesperson told Fierce Pharma over email. “We continue to believe in the strength and validity of the ’565 Patent and will appeal this decision.”

Last year, Moderna initiated litigation against BioNTech and Pfizer in the U.S. and Germany, following up with cases in the Netherlands and the U.K. Most recently, the company filed suits in Dublin, Ireland and the Brussels Commercial Court Belgium.

Moderna has made it clear that its litigation doesn’t aim to remove Pfizer and BioNTech’s Comirnaty from the market, but instead reap compensation and damages from alleged infringement.

While Moderna claims Pfizer and BioNTech copied key features of its patented technologies, the rival partners have said the mRNA specialist seeks to rewrite the COVID story to put itself in the “single, starring role” while stretching its “already overbroad” patents to “claim credit for others’ work.”