German court quashes CureVac patent after challenge by BioNTech

By Jörn Poltz

MUNICH (Reuters) -A German court on Tuesday invalidated a patent that was the basis of a patent violation lawsuit brought by CureVac against its domestic rival BioNTech, in a blow to CureVac’s claims for a share in billions of euros in COVID-19 vaccine revenues.

“The patent is being declared invalid for the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany,” Walter Schramm, presiding judge in Germany’s patent court, said in his ruling after a hearing.

CureVac’s Frankfurt-listed shares plunged 40% after the verdict.

The patent in question is one of several intellectual property titles that CureVac claims were infringed in ongoing legal proceedings.

BioNTech has responded by challenging the validity of Curevac’s patents and of its so-called German utility models, which are easier to obtain than patents but confer a shorter exclusivity period.

CureVac’s efforts to develop an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine did not come to fruition during the pandemic, whereas BioNTech and its partner Pfizer chalked up more than $40 billion in combined vaccines sales in 2021 and 2022.

Analysts have previously said much is at stake in the legal dispute for CureVac because being awarded even a small fraction of those revenues could transform its financial position.

A regional German court in September put on hold a separate patent infringement trial brought by CureVac against BioNTech over the use of mRNA technology in COVID-19 vaccines, weighing on CureVac’s shares.

The Duesseldorf regional court said at the time it suspended its proceedings until the German and European patent offices decide on a legal challenge filed by BioNTech over the validity of CureVac’s intellectual property rights.

(Reporting by Joern Poltz; Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Rachel More and Hugh Lawson)