Pfizer and its German partner today filed a counter claim against Moderna's patent-infringement suit over Covid-19 vaccines, saying that not only didn't they use Moderna's patented technology to develop their own Covid-19 vaccine, they're not a bunch of greedy money-grubbers seeking to re-write the history of mRNA technology - which they say started long before Moderna even existed.
In their counter-complaint, filed in US District Court in Boston, the two charge Moderna should be ashamed of itself, especially when people's lives are at stake:
In its complaint against BioNTech and Pfizer, Moderna rewrites that story to eliminate the contributions of many brilliant and dedicated scientists and place itself in the single, starring role. Ignoring the contributions of all these others - including Defendants' scientists and those working for the National Institutes of Health ("NIH")—Moderna now alleges that it developed both the Moderna vaccine and the technology behind Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine, and that Moderna deserves credit for the hard work and creative experiments performed by an entire field of researchers in the years before COVID-19 emerged. Moderna avers that it alone - not BioNTech, not Pfizer, and not the U.S. Government - holds critical patent rights to both parties' COVID-19 vaccines.
Moderna is wrong, and its revisionist history is not based on fact. Pfizer and BioNTech did not copy Moderna's technology. Nor do Pfizer and BioNTech infringe Moderna's patents-in-suit. Rather, Pfizer and BioNTech independently developed their vaccine by utilizing innovation from their respective scientists and relying upon decades of research conducted by others before the pandemic began. Unlike Moderna, however, Pfizer and BioNTech are not seeking a financial windfall for the work of others. Moderna's patent claims far exceed its actual contributions to the field, and its present lawsuit will discourage further development of the remarkable science that made accelerated COVID-19 vaccines possible in the first place. Pfizer and BioNTech deny Moderna's allegations, and, by their Counterclaims, seek to prevent that unjust and anti-scientific outcome.
Unlike past vaccines, which used actual live or weakened microrganisms to stimulate the immune system to develop antibodies to kill invaders, the basic idea behind the mRNA technique of the competing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is to create cellular instructions to create a piece of the virus and then excrete those, prompting the immune system to develop antibodies. A key part of the development of both vaccines was figuring out how to protect the messenger RNA from being destroyed by the body before it could be implanted in cells - both use a technique that involves wrapping the the mRNA in a coating of shielding fat that then helps implant the RNA into cells, which it then begins instructing to make viral fragments, in the case of Covid-19, the "spike" protein that helps the virus invade cells.
Pfizer says it uses a different form of mRNA than Moderna - and different types of lipids, or fats.
Pfizer and its partner seek a determination that they did not infringe on Moderna's patents and that Moderna be banned from ever trying to sue them again based on those patents. Also: Moderna should pay the two company's legal fees.