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Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine Could Hit Patent Snag and Involve Payment of Royalty

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Jul 2020
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Moderna, Inc.’s (Cambridge, MA, USA) efforts to develop next-generation vaccines, including a COVID-19 vaccine, could face a potential obstacle after its loss of a bid to invalidate a US patent owned by Arbutus Biopharma (Warminster, PA, USA).

According to a report by Reuters, an administrative court run by the US Patent and Trademark Office has rejected Moderna’s arguments that an Arbutus patent should be revoked as it described obvious concepts. The Arbutus patent known as the ‘069 patent is related to lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology that allows the human body to manufacture its own therapeutic proteins. Zachary Silbersher, a patent lawyer who is not involved the case, told Reuters that LNP technology plays a significant role in Moderna’s vaccine development efforts, and the company could come under pressure to pay for a license to Arbutus’ patent portfolio following the patent ruling.

Silbersher told Reuters that it was not clear whether Moderna’s vaccines, including its COVID-19 vaccine, that are currently under development infringe the ‘069 patent and related ones owned by Arbutus, although the company’s efforts to invalidate the patent indicates that it is being viewed as a potential obstacle. Moderna, which has received funding from the US government to develop a COVID-19vaccine, is free to appeal the patent office ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, although that court usually upholds the patent office’s determinations.

“At the end of the day, Arbutus might be able to claim a royalty in the (coronavirus) vaccine,” Silbersher told Reuters.

Related Links:
Moderna, Inc.
Arbutus Biopharma

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