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Second judge says US not liable in Moderna COVID-19 vaccine patent case

Published Apr 26, 2023 06:59PM ET Updated Apr 26, 2023 08:25PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Vial labelled "Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine" placed on displayed Moderna logo is seen in this illustration picture taken March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
 
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By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) - Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) Inc failed to persuade a Delaware federal judge on Wednesday to shift liability from the company to the U.S. government for alleged patent infringement by Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.

Chief Judge Colm Connolly's ruling for Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc came just over a month after a different judge in Delaware rejected Moderna's similar motion in another vaccine patent lawsuit.

Connolly did not include the reasoning for his decision in his order, which he announced from the bench following arguments in the case.

A Moderna spokesperson said in a statement that the company "respectfully disagrees" with the decision and is confident that discovery will support its position. Representatives for Alnylam did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Alnylam sued both Moderna and Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) in Delaware last year, seeking royalties for the lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology their vaccines use to deliver genetic material known as mRNA.

The cases are part of a wave of patent lawsuits that have been filed over technology used in the COVID-19 shots, including one filed by Moderna against Pfizer last year.

Moderna said in the Alnylam case that the court should dismiss claims that were based on vaccines it sold to the U.S. government and that Alnylam should instead seek damages from the government itself. It cited a law that was previously used to keep patent disputes from interfering with the supply of war materials during World War One.

Moderna made the same argument in a motion to dismiss part of another patent lawsuit brought by Arbutus Biopharma (NASDAQ:ABUS) Corp and Genevant Sciences GmbH.

U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg rejected Moderna's motion in that case last year and said it had not yet proven the government was more than an "incidental beneficiary" of the shots.

Goldberg denied the motion for a second time last month after the federal government backed Moderna's position.

Second judge says US not liable in Moderna COVID-19 vaccine patent case
 

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