Aug 11, 2020 - Health

Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for coronavirus vaccine

Moderna's red logo atop its headquarters building.

Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Moderna said in new financial filings that it "cannot be certain that we were the first to make the inventions claimed in our patents or pending patent applications" — including the company's experimental coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: This disclosure comes six weeks after Axios and Public Citizen highlighted how the National Institutes of Health may hold joint ownership claims for this particular vaccine.

What they're saying: Moderna, which had not included this language in previous quarterly investor reports, added that "publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after."

  • NIH scientists have filed for a provisional patent application tied to Moderna's vaccine, and the federal agency has also said "mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidates [are] developed and jointly owned" by NIH and Moderna.

The bottom line: The public increasingly appears to hold a significant ownership stake in Moderna's coronavirus vaccine, which is now in advanced clinical trials.

  • Moderna's stock dropped 3% Monday, but the company still has a market value around $28 billion.

Separately, regarding Moderna's noncompliance with a federal contract about disclosing taxpayer costs as a percentage of the project, HHS has told Axios that it has "reminded the company of the terms and conditions of the contract, and we will continue to monitor the company’s press releases and other public statements to ensure those terms and conditions are followed."

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