CureVac files patent lawsuit in Germany against BioNTech

By Patricia Weiss

BERLIN, July 5 (Reuters) – CureVac (5CV.DE) has filed a patent lawsuit in Germany against BioNTech (22UAy.DE) over its use of mRNA technology, marking one of the first known cases of a company going to court amid the fierce competition to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus.

The German-based company is seeking “fair compensation” from BioNTech and two subsidiaries for infringement of its intellectual property rights, it said on Tuesday.

A dose of CureVac vaccine or a placebo is seen during a study by the German biotech firm CureVac as part of a testing for a new vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

CureVac said that its claim to intellectual property rights was based on more than two decades of work on mRNA technology that was used by BioNTech and Pfizer (PFE.N) for the development and sale of their Comirnaty coronavirus vaccine.

However, CureVac said that it was not seeking an injunction, nor does it intend to take legal action that would impede the production, sale or distribution of the vaccine.

“At the height of the pandemic, it would not have occurred to any of us to point out patent infringement. Now that there is better control over the pandemic, we believe it is the right time to do so,” a spokesperson for CureVac said.

BioNTech declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in China, has killed more than 6.3 million people and spurred a race among pharmaceutical companies to be the first to develop a vaccine, with BioNTech and Pfizer coming to dominate the field.

After failed efforts to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market last year, CureVac intensified its work with partner GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) on improved versions of vaccine.

CureVac and GSK said in April that their second-generation vaccine candidate targeting two recent COVID-19 variants had been shown to be highly effective in pre-clinical studies on mice. read more

German-listed CureVac’s shares extended gains after the news, rising 2.5% at 13.90 euros at 1245 GMT.

BioNTech shares were down 3.65% at 145.25 euros.

The court in Duesseldorf, where CureVac submitted its lawsuit, declined to comment.

Reporting by Patricia Weiss; writing by Miranda Murray; editing by Paul Carrel, Jason Neely and Barbara Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source: Reuters