Moderna Could Face Patent Infringement Lawsuit Over Covid-19 Vaccine

Pharmaceutical giant Moderna could face a patent infringement lawsuit over its Covid-19 vaccine after the Federal Circuit US Court of Appeals rejected its challenge to patents belonging to Arbutus Biopharma on Wednesday.

The court upheld the US Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s findings that Arbutus’ patents are valid as the science involved was previously unknown. Arbutus’ patents may cover technology used in the Covid-19 vaccine

In court filings, Moderna had previously stated that it believes that, if the patents were upheld, Arbutus could launch a lawsuit asking for royalties from Moderna’s vaccine. Last month, Moderna forecast vaccine sales of $15 billion to $18 billion for 2021, and sales of $17 billion to $22 billion for 2022. 

The two patents are licensed to Genevant Sciences Inc, a company that Arbutus launched with Roivant Sciences Ltd in 2018. They involve the “lipid nanoparticles” that enclose the genetic material messenger RNA in the vaccine. It is thought that the technology could also be used to support the development of future vaccines against other illnesses. 

Initially, Moderna challenged the patents before the US Patent Trial Appeal Board, with the board agreeing that some elements of one of the patents involved were invalid. However, the board mainly sided with Arbutus, with the findings later upheld by the Federal Circuit. 

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