Regeneron and Pfizer sued for ‘unauthorised’ reagent use

Allele Bio says Regeneron and Pfizer’s use of a labelling reagent during COVID-19-related vaccine and therapeutics development infringed on its IP.

The San Diego biotech made the claim in lawsuits filed lawsuits against Regeneron and Pfizer this week. It said “both complaints address the infringement of Allele’s patented mNeonGreen reagent.”

mNeonGreen is a fluorescent protein used in biological assays. Like Green Fluorescent protein, when mNeonGreen binds a specific molecule it gives off a fluorescent signal that can be used to localise and quantify the target.

Image: iStock/Sky_Blue

However, mNeonGreen is brighter than GFP, which means it is more effective at identifying trace amounts of target molecules.

Lawsuits

Allele patented the technology behind that protein in 2019. According to the firm, hundreds of organizations and universities have active licenses to use the technology.

In contrast, Allele alleges both Regeneron and Pfizer – plus its partner BioNTech – used mNeonGreen commercially without authorization.

Reuters reported the companies employed the reagent during work related to COVID-19.

According to the complaint, “Allele reached out to Regeneron on multiple occasions to negotiate a license on reasonable terms, but all of its requests went unanswered.”

Royalties

Dan Catron, executive director, Licensing and Business Development for Allele, said “The purpose of these lawsuits is to maintain Allele’s patent rights and to ensure that an agreement can be put in place to protect the rights of current and future licensees.”

CEO Jiwu Wang added, “I am pleased that mNeonGreen has played a pivotal role in the fight against COVID-19. In no way does Allele want to prohibit, or slow down development of vaccines or therapeutics discovered using this technology.

“Our goal is to have these companies recognize, as many others have before them, the hard work that went in to developing this technology and to respect our intellectual property.”

To compensate for the alleged infringement Allele is seeking damages that amount to “no less than a reasonable royalty” according to the lawsuit.

Response

A Regeneron spokesperson told us the firm “is aware of the lawsuit filed by Allele Biotech. We are still reviewing the details in the Complaint, but we disagree that Regeneron has infringed any valid patent and we will vigorously defend our position against this lawsuit.”

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