Moderna vaccine
Moderna vaccineReuters

Pharmaceutical manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech have been targeted for legal action by rival company Moderna, which claims that they unlawfully copied the mRNA technology used to produce Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty.

"We believe that Pfizer and BioNTech unlawfully copied Moderna's inventions, and they have continued to use them without permission," Moderna Chief Legal Officer Shannon Thyme Klinger said in a statement.

Moderna has started that it will file suit both in the District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany. Pfizer started that it had not yet been served the lawsuit and would not comment on it for that reason.

Moderna has previously avoided intellectual property claims for the COVID-19 vaccine, although Moderna has hinted that the firm may revise that stance in the future, particularly with regard to rival pharmaceutical firms.

Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel told The Wall Street Journal "If people have used, or are using our technology to make a vaccine, I don't understand why, once we're in an endemic setting when there's plenty of vaccine and there's no issue to supply vaccines, why we should not get rewarded for the things we invented,"

Last year, the Biden administration called for the waiving of patent protections for the COVID-19 vaccine:

"This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures," United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in 2021. "The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines."

Moderna itself faces lawsuits regarding its mRNA technology from the US National Institutes of Pfizer and BioNTech also face third party lawsuits for their COVID-19 vaccines.