CureVac Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit in Germany Against BioNTech
Two weeks ago, Curevac filed a lawsuit in the German Regional Court in Düsseldorf against BioNTech over patent infringement alleging that BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine infringed its patents related to mRNA technology. In their press release, Curevac declared that no legal action which impedes the production, sale, or distribution of the vaccine will be taken. Instead, they seek only damages and royalties to be awarded based on past and future sales.
Over the last 20 years, Curevac has pioneered and built a rich patent portfolio related to mRNA design, delivery, and manufacturing. They even attempted the development of their own Covid-19 vaccine, but it was later abandoned as it was less effective than the other vaccines released on the market. On the other hand, things have gone quite well for BioNTech which transformed itself from a little company into a billion-dollar enterprise. Curevac claims that this success was based on their decades-long scientific research. BioNTech, although they respect the intellectual property rights, maintains that their work is original and they will defend against all claims of patent infringement. They believe that lawsuits like this derive from their vaccine’s great success.
What might happen if the infringement is proven in this case? 2021 was an excellent year for BioNTech, which closed its last quarter with revenues of €5.5 billion and €19.0 billion for the whole year. Almost all of the revenue is based on the success and sales of their Covid-19 vaccine and is now subject to the lawsuit. Even if the court awards as little as 3% of the revenue, Cureva can make hundreds of millions. It will also be interesting to see if this case will be an opening shot for intellectual property battles over Covid-19 vaccines.