Arbutus files patent lawsuit against Pfizer/BioNTech over COVID vaccines

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Pfizer logo is seen in this illustration taken, May 1, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo

April 4 (Reuters) - Arbutus Biopharma (ABUS.O) on Tuesday sued U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and its German partner BioNTech SE in a New Jersey district court, claiming their mRNA COVID-19 vaccines infringe five of Arbutus' patents.

Arbutus, along with its licensee Genevant Sciences, is seeking damages, including reasonable royalties, over the use of lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery technology in Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to carry and transfer genetic material into the body.

The lawsuit by Arbutus and Genevant says Pfizer/BioNTech engaged in licensing discussions for the technology but they did not "result in a settlement".

Genevant is a joint venture between Arbutus and Roivant Sciences Ltd (ROIV.O).

Arbutus Biopharma had also sued Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) in the Delaware federal court last year, claiming the latter's mRNA COVID-19 vaccine also infringes its patents.

In its lawsuit against Moderna, Arbutus had said it was not looking to block the drugmaker from producing or distributing the vaccines but was seeking monetary damages including a reasonable royalty.

"Pfizer and BioNTech are aware that Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences have filed an action for infringement with respect to certain U.S. Patents," BioNTech told Reuters, and added that the companies would not comment on their legal strategy.

Pfizer had said earlier in the day that the company "will vigorously defend against the allegations of the lawsuit."

Arbutus declined to comment beyond the press release.

Moderna had sued Pfizer and BioNTech in August 2022 for allegedly infringing three patents related to their multibillion-dollar mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

Pfizer and BioNtech are facing another patent infringement lawsuit related to the vaccines brought by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc (ALNY.O) in March 2022.

Arbutus fell 2.6% to $2.98 on Tuesday, while Pfizer was down 1.2% and U.S.-listed shares of BioNtech dropped almost 3%.

Reporting by Bhanvi Satija and Khushi Mandowara in Bengaluru and Blake Brittain in Washington, D.C; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Sriraj Kalluvila

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