Covid vaccine patent landscape heats up as Pfizer's partner sues Arbutus and Genevant
The patent landscape around the two top Covid-19 vaccines is getting more complex and contested by the day.
Most recently, Canadian biotech Acuitas sued Arbutus and Genevant, two companies that Acuitas believes are making baseless claims about being near the heart of Pfizer and BioNTech’s and Moderna’s wildly successful Covid-19 vaccines.
The suit comes as Acuitas’ LNP, or lipid nanoparticle, technology is used to deliver Comirnaty via an established partnership. But the company says that “the defendants here, Arbutus and Genevant, had nothing to do with that success,” according to a filing Friday before the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Suffice to say Acuitas is not happy with Arbutus and Genevant’s claims.
“Arbutus and Genevant seek the benefits flowing from Comirnaty without having borne any of the burden of developing it. Their claim to rights in— and payment for— Comirnaty is baseless,” Acuitas added in their filing.
The retort is similar to one made by Moderna last week as RNAi giant Alnylam Pharmaceuticals has also sued the Boston biotech and Pfizer over similar LNP intellectual property — seeking a “fair royalty” as compensation. Arbutus and Genevant also sued Moderna late last month in Delaware district court for patent infringement over patents related to the companies’ nucleic acid-lipid particles and lipid vesicles. Arbutus and Genevant also expressed their desire for a “reasonable warranty” from Moderna’s Spikevax sales.
For its part, a Moderna spokesperson has previously told Endpoints News “we are confident that Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is not covered by those claims. Moderna is a pioneer of mRNA-based vaccines, and we have developed our own proprietary LNP-delivery technology.”
In Acuitas’ 42-page complaint, the biotech is asking the court to rule that Comirnaty does not infringe on any valid claims of any of Arbutus’s patents and that the court invalidate the company’s related patents.
Genevant is a partial subsidiary of Roivant Sciences, which owns 84% of Genevant and Arbutus owns the rest. Roivant, Vivek Ramaswamy’s former firm, has also made investments into Arbutus, including a $117 million investment back in 2017.
Acuitas said in its filing that Genevant and Arbutus had sent letters to Pfizer headquarters back in 2020 and 2021, threatening to sue the big pharma and assert their patents.