[Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Judge Rules Against Vaccine Maker Moderna

A judge has ruled against vaccine-maker Moderna in a case that will have ramifications over medical patents. Despite having the support of the federal government, Judge Mitchell Goldberg has allowed a lawsuit to move to the discovery phase after refusing Moderna’s request for dismissal. 

Reuters reports that “U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg ruled for the second time that Moderna had not yet shown that the government was the proper target of a lawsuit by Arbutus Biopharma Corp and Genevant Sciences GmbH.

A spokesperson for Genevant declined to comment on the decision. Representatives for Moderna, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

Warminster Township, Pennsylvania-based Arbutus and Genevant — a joint venture between Arbutus and Roivant Sciences Ltd — sued Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna for patent infringement last year, seeking royalties from Moderna’s multi-billion-dollar COVID vaccines.

Moderna asked the court to dismiss the case last May. It said the United States was the proper target of the claims because the company made its vaccine for the government’s nationwide vaccination effort, citing a law that was previously used to keep patent disputes from interfering with the supply of war materials during World War One.”

Now the pandemic’s over and the smaller company wants its cut of the pie. 

“Moderna and the government had argued that under 28 U.S.C. 1498, the claims should be dismissed and moved to the Court of Federal Claims. That would mean the government was inserted as the defendant, replacing Moderna, and leave the government responsible for paying any damages awarded,” wrote the Epoch Times.

“The law in question states that any infringement claims relating to inventions being used “by or for the government” and with “the authorization and consent of the government” must be handled in the Court of Federal Claims.

The 2020 vaccine contract between Moderna and the U.S. Army stated that it was “for the United States government … and the U.S. population.”

While Moderna and the government said that evidence supported the contract being ‘by or for the government,’ Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences said the dispute “can only be resolved on a fully developed record” and urged the court to allow discovery.”

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