On Oct. 8, Moderna, Inc., issued a statement on intellectual property matters during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the statement, Moderna acknowledged the importance of the role of intellectual property “in encouraging investment in research.” Nevertheless, Moderna feels it has a special obligation to allow others access to its patented technologies; accordingly, Moderna indicated that it will not enforce COVID-19-related patents during the pandemic and that it is willing to license its patents.

“We feel a special obligation under the current circumstances to use our resources to bring this pandemic to an end as quickly as possible. Accordingly, while the pandemic continues, Moderna will not enforce our COVID-19 related patents against those making vaccines intended to combat the pandemic. Further, to eliminate any perceived IP barriers to vaccine development during the pandemic period, upon request we are also willing to license our intellectual property for COVID-19 vaccines to others for the post pandemic period.”

Moderna’s statement did not indicate any royalty rate requirements.

Moderna’s statement also did not specifically identify Moderna’s patents related to COVID-19; it points to “a selection of representative issued US patents relevant to our mRNA-1273 vaccine against COVID-19.” The patents are U.S. Pat. No. 10,703,789; U.S. Pat. No. 10,702,600; U.S. Pat. No. 10,577,403; U.S. Pat. No. 10,442,756; U.S. Pat. No. 10,266,485; U.S. Pat. No. 10,064,959; and U.S. Pat. No. 9,868,692. The patents are directed to mRNA vaccine constructs and lipids for the delivery of therapeutics, including nucleic acids, to cells. There may be others. For instance, a search on Orbit.com for Moderna revealed 227 patented inventions.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, competitors have turned into collaborators; Moderna’s actions are yet another example of how the biotech/pharmaceutical industry is sharing intellectual property to find treatments for COVID-19. This step allows others to rely on Moderna’s patented technologies to find a treatment for the disease. Moderna’s action will be helpful for companies seeking to develop RNA-based vaccines against COVID-19.