The US, not Moderna, should deal with COVID-19 vaccine patent suits: Justice Department

Moderna is not liable for patent infringement cases against its COVID-19 vaccine, but the U.S. should be, the Justice Department said in court documents filed Feb. 14. 

Pennsylvania-based Arbutus Biopharma and Canada-based Genevant Sciences have filed suits against Moderna on the allegations that the Massachusetts-based drugmaker breached patents with its COVID-19 vaccine. 

Because the mRNA-based vaccine was prompted and supported by the federal government's Operation Warp Speed in 2020, the Justice Department said that the U.S. is the defendant, not Moderna. 

The history of U.S. patent laws and precedents is nearly as old as the nation itself, but during World War II, a law amended one patent statute so that "the use or manufacture of an invention described in or covered by a patent of the United States by a contractor, a subcontractor or any person, firm, or corporation for the government and with the authorization or consent of the government, shall be construed as use or manufacture for the United States." 

As three attorneys for the Justice Department argue, this means that companies are "limited to pursuing a claim against the United States" for complaints relating to the $8.2 billion federal contract for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.


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