Arbutus files patent infringement lawsuit against Moderna

The patents relate to nucleic acid-lipid particles and lipid vesicles, plus compositions and methods for their use.

Arbutus Biopharma Corp announced on Monday that it has filed a lawsuit against Moderna Inc seeking damages for infringement of patents related to its COVID-19 vaccine. This comes after Moderna's challenge to patents owned by Arbutus Biopharma and licensed to Genevant Sciences Inc was rejected by a federal appeals court in December. According to Arbutus and Genevant, the patents cover nucleic acid-lipid particles and lipid vesicles, as well as compositions and methods for their utilization. The court upheld an administrative panel's finding that Arbutus' patents, which may encompass vaccine technology, were valid because the science involved was unknown at the time. Arbutus and Genevant do not seek to interfere with the sale, manufacturing, or distribution of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, said Arbutus Chief Executive Officer William Collier in a statement.

"However, we seek fair compensation for Moderna's use of our patented technology that was developed with great effort and at great expense, without which Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine would not have been successful." In fact, Genevant is collaborating with multiple companies and non-profits “to develop vaccines against COVID-19 in territories around the world, including low- and middle-income countries, with the goal of eradicating COVID-19,” the companies said in Monday's release. Genevant's worldwide mRNA goals align with Moderna and BioNTech's initiatives to extend vaccine production globally by establishing manufacturing facilities in countries like Africa. At its technology transfer hub in South Africa, the World Health Organization is likewise working to bring mRNA technology to impoverished nations by recreating Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine using public data.