Pfizer and its Germany partner BioNTech have urged London’s High Court to invalidate competitor Moderna‘s patents over technology instrumental in the Covid-19 vaccines development as the latest phase of a global legal fight that started yesterday (23 April), reported Reuters.

In September 2022, US pharma company Pfizer and BioNTech filed a lawsuit against Moderna at London’s High Court, seeking to cancel patents held by Moderna.

However, days after the filing of the lawsuit, Moderna hit back, levelling allegations that its patents had been infringed.

The dispute centres on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology, which has been instrumental in the fight against the pandemic.

Moderna has accused Pfizer and BioNTech of infringing on its patented mRNA technology with its joint vaccine, Comirnaty.

Moderna is seeking compensation for this alleged infringement of its technology by Pfizer and BioNTech, whose Comirnaty saw huge sales since March 2022.

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According to Moderna, it had pioneered and patented the technology way before the Covid-19 pandemic began in late 2019.

In 2022, Pfizer’s Comirnaty coronavirus disease vaccines generated $11.2bn in sales while Moderna’s Spikevax brought in $6.7bn.

However, Pfizer and BioNTech are contending in London’s High Court that Moderna’s patents should be revoked. They argue that the mRNA advancements were predictable progressions based on prior research.

The London High Court has divided the case into three separate trials, with one set to examine Moderna’s 2020 commitment to not enforce its vaccine patents during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the legal battle between Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna extends beyond the UK, with parallel proceedings in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the US, as well as at the European Patent Office.  

Many of these cases are currently put on hold.

Earlier this year, the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved a variation in the licence for Pfizer-BioNTech’s 30mg dose of Comirnaty XBB.1.5, a Covid-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron variant.