Whenever there is a major public focus on a certain medical issue or pressing demand for new medical treatments, pharmaceutical companies scramble to be the first with viable options. The proliferation of new viruses around the world inevitably leads to the development of new vaccine technology to help people reduce their risk of infection or diminish the severity of any infection that does occur.
There can be a lot of money to be made in such biomedical advances, and companies often protect their interest in research quite assertively. Recently, Moderna filed a lawsuit for patent infringement against both Pfizer and BioNTech relating to their COVID vaccine. The lawsuit alleges that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine infringes on Moderna’s patents.
What can this lawsuit teach us about patent infringement in the United States?
For those putting out new products
As an entrepreneur, an inventor or an executive running a successful company, you want to be on the bleeding edge of what is cool and in demand. Unfortunately, if another company beats you to the punch with the release of a product, you may need to take some time to reevaluate your business’s offerings.
As evidenced by the Pfizer lawsuit, subsequent products released by competitors that are too similar to existing products protected by patents run the risk of violating the other company’s intellectual property rights and therefore facing aggressive enforcement efforts. Familiarizing yourself with the patents that apply to the industry in which you operate and ensuring that your products or processes don’t come close to patented ideas can protect you from allegations of intellectual property violations later.
For those patenting cutting-edge concepts
You need to constantly monitor the marketplace after patenting an idea, as there is no guarantee that other businesses will respect the ideas and processes that your business developed.
When you believe that another business has infringed on your patented concept, you may be able to take them to court in an enforcement action. You may be able to stop them from continuing to violate the patent or possibly demand licensing fees. You could also seek damages if their actions have had a provable negative impact on your business’s operations.
Tracking stories that have to do with patent violations can help those developing new products or hoping to protect their own patented concepts.