mRNA technology used in Covid vaccines: CureVac sues rival BioNTech

The German biotechnology laboratory CureVac announced on Tuesday that it had filed a complaint against its rival BioNTech, designer with Pfizer of one of the main anti-Covid vaccines, for infringement of intellectual property concerning the innovative technology of messenger RNA.

CureVac says it has filed a complaint with the Düsseldorf Regional Court “against BioNTech SE and two of its subsidiaries, seeking fair compensation for the infringement of a number of its intellectual property rights,” according to a company statement.

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The biotech start-up, known for its research into drugs based on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), wants to “enforce its intellectual property rights stemming from more than two decades of pioneering work in mRNA technology, which have contributed to the development of anti-Covid vaccines”, continues the company.

No obstacles to production

In the midst of a new wave of infections in many European countries, CureVac assures “not to seek an injunction and does not intend to take legal action which could hinder the production, sale or distribution of vaccines by BioNTech and its American partner.

But the company believes that its “22 years” of work on RNA technology, which has enabled “the rapid development” of vaccines against the new coronavirus, deserve “fair compensation”, which the laboratory does not quantify.

This remuneration would “be able to invest in the development of RNA technology and new classes of drugs that can save lives,” says CureVac.

The initial vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was the first authorized in Western countries, in December 2020 and generated billions of euros in revenue for the two companies.

CureVac, founded in 2000 by researcher Ingmar Hoerr, a pioneer in messenger RNA research, was among the first to enter the vaccine race.

But BioNTech’s rival had to announce in October 2021 the abandonment of the development of its candidate vaccine against Covid-19, initially promising, but whose effectiveness proved to be disappointing.

The company then announced “to focus on the development of a second generation vaccine against Covid-19” on which it is working with the British GSK.

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