In the corona pandemic, Biontech and Moderna are saving many lives with their mRNA vaccines. But who laid the foundation for the precious technological milestone? Moderna owns many patents that Biontech now wants to have null and void in court.

The US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner Biontech have filed a lawsuit against US competitor Moderna in a dispute over competing corona vaccines. They are asking a court in Boston to dismiss Moderna’s lawsuit and find that Moderna’s patents are invalid and not infringed, court documents show.

Moderna first sued Biontech and Pfizer in August, accusing the companies of infringing on its technology patents. According to Moderna, they want to have developed this before the pandemic. The vaccine company is demanding compensation for intellectual property rights violations, but has not yet disclosed the amount. All three companies have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Moderna is also filing a similar lawsuit against Pfizer and Biontech in Germany. Moderna had already invested “billions of dollars” before the outbreak of the pandemic and wanted to protect its innovative technology platform, CEO Stephane Bancel justified the move. Like Biontech, Moderna is considered a pioneer in mRNA vaccines, on which the corona vaccines of both sides are based and which brought them billions in revenue. The US company already applied for patents in the years 2010 to 2016 – long before the pandemic caused demand to increase rapidly worldwide.

Patent lawsuits related to vaccine development are not uncommon. Biontech and Pfizer are also facing allegations from other competitors. In July, the Tübingen-based biotech company Curevac, which had failed to develop its own corona vaccine, started a legal battle against Biontech and two subsidiaries. In the process, it must be clarified to what extent the respective patents went into the development of the Biontech vaccine, said Curevac boss Franz-Werner Haas at the time. Biontech said the company’s work is “original and we will vigorously defend it against all allegations of patent infringement.”