Dec 1, 2021 - Health

Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine

A hand holds a box of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, with other boxes in the background.

Moderna could be forced to share profits of its COVID vaccine with Arbutus. Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Wednesday dismissed two patent challenges from Moderna over key components involved in making its COVID-19 vaccine.

Why it matters: The court's decision to side with Arbutus Biopharma means Arbutus could potentially sue Moderna for patent infringement and demand royalties from Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to generate up to $18 billion of revenue this year.

Details: The patent cases have been ongoing since early 2018 and involve Arbutus' small lipid particles and other related mRNA drug technology.

  • In one of today's patent decisions, the court acknowledged how Shaun Ryan, Moderna's deputy general counsel, said there is "substantial risk that Arbutus may bring an infringement action relating to Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine."

Of note: Moderna doesn't specifically mention Arbutus in its quarterly and annual financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Go deeper