A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Wednesday affirmed decisions by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board on two
Moderna was the
“Ultimately, we think the parties will go to court but will settle for a small royalty in due course,”
Moderna’s future is tied to the Covid vaccine. The company reported $60.2 million in revenue in 2019, a figure that jumped to $803.4 million last year, boosted by federal grants. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company has projected about $20 billion in sales this year, almost all of it from the Covid vaccine.
A Moderna spokeswoman said the court’s patent ruling is unrelated to the company’s
A representative of Arbutus didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Warminster, Pennsylvania-based Arbutus was “heavily favored” to win the appeals, which could lead to an infringement suit against Moderna, Jefferies analysts
The patents cover lipid nanoparticles -- tiny balls of fat that protect genetic material as it travels through the body to enter specific cells to deliver drugs. Messenger RNA, the genetic material at the heart of the Covid vaccines, needs the lipid nanoparticles as a protective shell.
Royalties from nerve-function drug Onpattro -- the first Food and Drug Administration-approved medicine that used Arbutus’s technology -- form the only source of revenue for Arbutus, which reported just $6.9 million in licensing fees last year.
Investors have been speculating that the Arbutus patents, directed to a more stable lipid nanoparticle, will entitle the company to royalties from the mRNA-based vaccines by Moderna and
Moderna preemptively challenged three Arbutus patents on the technology at the PTAB, with mixed results. The board invalidated one patent not at issue in the Federal Circuit’s latest two rulings, upheld all of another, and upheld some claims of a third.
Moderna appealed, challenging the board’s findings that it didn’t show parts of the patents were obvious and anticipated.
The cases are Arbutus Biopharma Corp. v. Moderna Therapeutics Inc.,
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