Nov 14 (Reuters) - Biotech company Acuitas Therapeutics has filed a lawsuit in Virginia federal court against Germany-based CureVac (5CV.DE), accusing it of failing to credit Acuitas scientists on patents related to COVID-19 vaccines.
Acuitas told the court on Monday that CureVac omitted its scientists from patent applications for lipid nanoparticle technology used in messenger RNA-based vaccines after they collaborated to develop the technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada-based Acuitas, which also developed related technology used in Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 shots, asked the court to list its scientists as co-inventors on the CureVac patents, which could allow Acuitas to license them independently.
Pfizer and BioNTech have also sued CureVac, asking a judge to block CureVac's infringement allegations against the companies. Acuitas has separately asked to intervene with its inventorship claims in that case in Virginia.
CureVac said in a statement on Tuesday that it is "confident that our IP complies with all applicable laws and does not breach any agreements with Acuitas," and that it would "vigorously defend" itself against the allegations.
An Acuitas spokesperson declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
Lipid nanoparticles are used in Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 shots to safely transport mRNA into a recipient's body. LNPs are also the subject of other patent lawsuits filed against Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna by other biotech companies seeking royalties from the vaccines.
Acuitas said in its Monday lawsuit that it and CureVac have been collaborating on mRNA-based therapeutics that use its LNP technology since 2014. The complaint said that the companies began working together on a COVID-19 vaccine starting in January 2020.
CureVac abandoned its first COVID-19 vaccine candidate in 2021 after it showed low efficacy in clinical trials. The company is currently testing a modified COVID-19 vaccine developed in collaboration with GSK.
Acuitas said in the complaint that, starting in 2020, CureVac applied for four LNP-related patents that the companies co-developed without telling Acuitas or crediting its scientists.
Acuitas asked the court to correct the patents to list four of its scientists as co-inventors of the technology.
The case is Acuitas Therapeutics Inc v. CureVac SE, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, No. 3:23-cv-00764.