Pfizer, biotech firm end patent fight over COVID-19 vaccine

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A medical staff prepares a booster dose of Pfizer's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine are seen at a vaccination centre in Brussels, Belgium, January 5, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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  • Allele Biotechnology said Pfizer, BioNTech misused protein in vaccine development
  • Pfizer denied claims, said patent was invalid
  • Parties said resolution was "mutually satisfactory"

(Reuters) - San Diego-based Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Inc has resolved its patent dispute with Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE over technology allegedly used in developing their COVID-19 vaccine, according to a filing late Tuesday in San Diego federal court.

The companies said in a joint statement provided by an Allele spokesperson on Wednesday that they had resolved the dispute "in a mutually satisfactory manner."

The parties agreed to dismiss the claims with prejudice, which means they can't be refiled.

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New York-based Pfizer said in November that it expected sales of its COVID-19 vaccine, which it developed with Germany's BioNTech, to reach $36 billion in 2021, and estimated another $29 billion in sales in 2022.

Allele sued Pfizer and BioNTech in 2020, arguing they used its patented fluorescent protein without permission in researching, developing and testing their vaccines. It said the companies never contacted it about licensing the protein, known as mNeonGreen, calling it "the critical link in defendants' COVID-19 vaccine development."

Pfizer and BioNTech later denied the claims and argued the patent was invalid. A trial in the case was scheduled to begin in about a year.

Pfizer, BioNTech and their attorneys didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Allele sued Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc in New York the same day it sued Pfizer and BioNTech for allegedly infringing the same patent in developing its COVID-19 antibody treatment. That case is still ongoing.

The cases are Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Inc v. Pfizer Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, No. 3:20-cv-01958 and Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Inc v. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 7:20-cv-08255.

For Allele: Robert Schaffer of Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders

For Pfizer: Thomas Selby of Williams & Connolly

For BioNTech: Bruce Wexler of Paul Hastings

Read more:

Regeneron, Pfizer sued for patent infringement over COVID antibody cocktail, vaccine

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at