CureVac Sues BioNTech Over COVID-19 Vaccine Patents

Pharma giant CureVac is suing Pfizer's vaccine partner BioNTech over the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

CureVac has filed a lawsuit against their competitor, claiming patent violations in the creation of the vaccine's revolutionary messenger RNA (mRNA) tech.

The two companies are due to clash in court after CureVac demanded "fair compensation" over BioNTech's vaccine.

CureVac's own vaccine, produced during the pandemic, was a medical flop while Pfizer went on to be distributed around the world.

CureVac Germany
The CureVac biopharmaceutical company in Germany. The company has filed a patent lawsuit against BioNTech over mRNA technology. Zenger/CureVac AG

The case was brought to the Dusseldorf Regional Court in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia on Tuesday (July 5).

According to German media Deutsche Welle, the alleged violations concern the technical process behind the production of mRNA molecules, along with the mRNA vaccine formulation intended to treat SARS‑CoV‑2 virus infections.

CureVac said in a statement: "CureVac has filed a lawsuit in the German Regional Court in Dusseldorf against BioNTech SE and two of its subsidiaries, seeking fair compensation for infringement of a portfolio of CureVac's intellectual property rights."

But the company said it is not seeking to slow down or restrict the production of the vaccine.

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Development and production at the CureVac biopharmaceutical company that develops therapies based on messenger RNA in the German city of Tubingen. The company has brought a lawsuit before the Dusseldorf Regional Court. Zenger/Patrick Hipp, CureVac AG

CureVac claimed it "does not seek an injunction nor intend to take legal action that impedes the production, sale or distribution" of the vaccine by BioNTech and Pfizer.

They also revealed that any compensation awarded by the court would be plowed back "into the further advancement of mRNA technology and the ongoing development of new classes of life-saving medicines."

BioNTech hit back, stating that its vaccine is all its own work.

It said: "BioNTech values and respects valid intellectual property rights.

"BioNTech's work is original, and we will vigorously defend it against all allegations of patent infringement.

"However, we are aware that it is not unusual that other companies in the pharmaceutical industry, having witnessed the success of Comirnaty, are now suggesting that the vaccine potentially infringes their intellectual property rights."

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The CureVac biopharmaceutical company. The company has said that it is not seeking to slow down or restrict the production of the vaccine. Zenger/CureVac AG

CureVac Chief Executive Officer Franz-Werner Haas called for clarity over the quantity of the patented work used in the development of the BioNTech/Pfizer jab.

A CureVac spokesperson claimed that the company had known that its patents were infringed upon for a while and added: "At the height of the pandemic, however, none of us would have thought of pointing out the patent infringement.

"We believe that now that there is better control over the pandemic, it is the right time to do so."

BioNTech's vaccine's Comirnaty was created by the Brand Institute in Miami in the U.S. state of Florida, and combines the words COVID-19, mRNA, community and immunity within its name.

CureVac Germany lab
Development and production at the CureVac biopharmaceutical company that develops therapies based on messenger RNA in the German city of Tubingen. The company's own vaccine failed to generate effective enough results. Zenger/CureVac AG

It was the first mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 with a high rate of effectiveness, and is based on the ability of messenger RNA to initiate a production of protein that triggers an immune response in the human system.

Moderna, the American pharmaceutical and biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has also used mRNA technology to create its vaccine against the coronavirus.

In the early stages of the pandemic, CureVac also worked to create a vaccine but the vaccine failed to achieve effective results, coming in at only 47 percent effectiveness, compared to BioNTech-Pfizer's 94.6 percent effectiveness rate.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.