MPP position statement on patents with regards to the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub
16 November 2021
Unfounded rumours have been circulating that the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub being established in South Africa with the support of the Government of South Africa, the African CDC, the World Health Organization and the Medicines Patent Pool, intends to infringe patents. The Medicines Patent Pool, which is responsible for the intellectual property and licensing elements of the hub, wishes to make it clear that this is not the case. MPP will ensure that technology used in the hub is either not covered by patents or that licences and/or commitments-not-to-enforce are in place to enable freedom to operate. The Medicines Patent Pool’s model of public health licensing is dependent on the voluntary participation of intellectual property holders and therefore has no intention of being involved in patent infringement.
In the particular case of the South African Hub, due diligence has identified the existence of patents on the mRNA technology granted to Moderna, and the Medicines Patent Pool and Moderna have subsequently initiated discussions. Moreover, the patent law in South Africa contains a provision (like the so-called Bolar exemption in the USA) authorizing research and development activities in the country, regardless of any patent situation. In addition, Moderna has publicly committed the following: Beyond Moderna’s vaccine, there are other COVID-19 vaccines in development that may use Moderna-patented technologies. 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.