Moderna can't hide behind the government in patent infringement suit, judge rules

Sorry, Moderna—you're going to have to fight this one on your own.

Moderna's motion to dismiss a patent infringement lawsuit centered on COVID-19 vaccine technology fell short after the company argued that the case should be directed at the U.S. government rather than itself.

After Arbutus Biopharma and Roivant’s Genevant Sciences sued Moderna in February for alleged patent infringement, the company countered with a motion to dismiss in May. In its motion, the company argued that the government—rather than itself—should defend against the claims because the company was simply providing doses under a federal contract.

But U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg didn't buy the argument. Dismissing the motion, he found (PDF) that the company failed to prove the government should face the lawsuit.

Despite the result, Moderna is still confident in its argument. In a statement, a spokesperson said the decision was "precedural" and "not a decision on the merits."

Ultimately, the company looks forward to "proving that there was no infringement by Moderna of the Arbutus patents," the company's spokesperson added.

This isn't the only patent fight Moderna has faced during the pandemic. Aside from Arbutus and Genevant Sciences, RNA specialist Alnylam has also sued the company for alleged infringement. 

Along with those cases, Moderna is engaged with fellow COVID-19 vaccine maker Pfizer in a patent clash. In late August, the company filed a lawsuit against Pfizer and BioNTech, accusing the two of treading on its patents and reaping billions of dollars in benefits.

All of the cases carry major financial stakes because of the tens of billions of dollars so far generated by the lucrative pandemic shots.