Jun 7, 2023Legal
Promosome Files Patent Infringement Lawsuits Against Moderna, Pfizer, and BioNTech Over COVID-19 Vaccines

Promosome LLC, a biotech firm represented by law firm Susman Godfrey, has just filed a patent infringement lawsuits against Moderna, Pfizer, and BioNTech. The lawsuits claim that the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines produced by these companies violate Promosome's patented technology. According to the suits, Promosome played a crucial role in pioneering the transformative technology used in the defendants' mRNA vaccines more than a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The patented technology in question was developed by Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman, Vincent Mauro, Stephen Chappell, and Wei Zhou at The Scripps Research Institute. Their understanding of protein synthesis led to the discovery of a novel method of modifying mRNA to enhance protein expression. Promosome alleges that this method makes mRNA vaccines safer and significantly more effective. The technology is protected by U.S. Patent No. 8,853,179, titled "Reengineering mRNA Primary Structure for Enhanced Protein Production."

The first lawsuit targets Moderna and describes how Promosome shared its technology with the company's top leadership, including CEO Stéphane Bancel and President Stephen Hoge, under a Confidential Disclosure Agreement in 2013. Although Moderna did not obtain a license for the '179 Patent, an analysis of the mRNA sequence claims that Moderna incorporated the patented technology into its Spikevax® vaccine, which has generated over $35 billion in revenue. The second lawsuit targets Pfizer and BioNTech, alleging that their joint COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty®, willfully infringes the '179 Patent. Promosome claims that it shared its technology with BioNTech scientist Dr. Katalin Karikó in 2015, but neither BioNTech nor Pfizer pursued a license. Comirnaty® has generated revenues exceeding $75 billion. Promosome is seeking royalties for the alleged use of its technology, which allows for the safe and effective use of small doses of mRNA in vaccines. Pfizer earned $37.8 billion from sales of its COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty last year, while Moderna made $18.4 billion from its vaccine Spikevax.

Susman Godfrey partner Bill Carmody, the lead lawyer on the matter, emphasized the significance of Promosome's technology in combatting COVID-19. He stated, "Our client's cutting-edge technology has helped spare hundreds of millions of people from the harmful effects of COVID-19. Unfortunately, these big pharma companies have failed to give Promosome what it deserves."

Promosome LLC is represented by a team of attorneys from Susman Godfrey LLP, including Amanda K. Bonn, Bill Carmody, Joseph Grinstein, Shawn Blackburn, and Taylor Hoogendoorn


These recent lawsuits further complicate the already tangled web of patent disputes among biotech companies concerning the technology used in COVID-19 vaccines. Notably, Moderna previously filed a case in Massachusetts last year against Pfizer and BioNTech, alleging patent infringement. The outcome of Promosome's lawsuits against Moderna, Pfizer, and BioNTech will have a significant impact on the ongoing patent disputes within the biotech industry, shaping the future landscape of vaccine development and intellectual property rights.

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