Moderna fends off Arbutus appeal in COVID-19 vaccine patent fight


Moderna fends off Arbutus appeal in COVID-19 vaccine patent fight

By Blake Brittain

April 11 (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court handed Moderna Inc. (MRNA.O) a win on Tuesday, affirming a decision to cancel an Arbutus Biopharma Corp. (ABUS.O) patent related to the companies’ legal fight over Moderna’s blockbuster COVID-19 vaccines.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office tribunal’s ruling that the patent for Arbutus’ lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology was invalid based on an earlier Arbutus patent that disclosed the same invention.

Moderna challenged the patent at the PTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board in 2018, and the board invalidated it in 2019.

A spokesperson for Genevant declined to comment on the Tuesday decision. A Moderna spokesperson said the company was pleased with the ruling.

The Federal Circuit’s decision does not affect an ongoing lawsuit filed by Arbutus and Genevant Sciences — a joint venture between Arbutus and Roivant Sciences Ltd. (ROIV.O) — against Moderna last year in Delaware for allegedly infringing other related LNP patents.

Warminster Township, Pennsylvania-based Arbutus said in the lawsuit that Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna began challenging its patents at the PTO after failing to acquire a license to its LNP technology.

The technology is used to deliver RNA to target cells without being attacked by the body’s immune system.

Arbutus separately sued Pfizer and BioNTech for patent infringement last week over their COVID-19 shots, in a lawsuit that also does not include the canceled patent.

The Federal Circuit case is Arbutus Biopharma Corp v. ModernaTX Inc, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 20-1183.

Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source: Reuters