The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Moderna are engaged in a dispute over which scientists developed Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, with the conflict possibly heading to court.
Moderna and government scientists collaborated on the development of the shot and the government asked the company to include a trio of scientists on its patent application. But company officials said in a patent filing in July for a key sequence that’s part of the vaccine that they “have reached a good-faith determination” that the scientists did not invent it.
The filing “took NIH officials by surprise,” a government official familiar with the situation told The Epoch Times in an email on condition of anonymity.
The agency disagrees and a review of the matter determined Drs. Kizzmekia Corbett, Barney Graham, and John Mascola, who all worked with Moderna while at the NIH, are co-inventors of the component and should be named as such.
“Omitting NIH inventors from the principal patent application deprives NIH of a co-ownership interest in that application and the patent that will eventually issue from it,” the official said.
The three scientists, only one of whom still works at NIH, did not respond to requests for comment.
Moderna said in a statement that NIH scientists did not co-invent the mRNA, or modified nucleotide, sequence used in the vaccine, alleging the scientists “were not even aware of the mRNA sequence until after the patent application had already been filed.”
“For those who would seek to twist Moderna’s good faith application of U.S. patent law into something else, nothing could be further from the truth. Moderna remains the only company to have pledged not to enforce its COVID-19 intellectual property during the pandemic. Moreover, on September 29th, Moderna offered to resolve its dispute with NIAID by making the government co-owners of those patent applications that only listed Moderna scientists as inventors, including the right as co-owners to license the patents as they see fit,” the company added.
NIAID is part of the NIH.