50 most influential people in IP 2022: MIP recognises Shannon Thyme Klinger at Moderna
Shannon Thyme Klinger is chief legal officer at Moderna in the US
When COVID hit the world, a lot of stakeholders wanted to ensure patents wouldn’t get in the way of access to medicine.
Several tech companies signed the Open COVID pledge, in which they promised free public access to their intellectual property for the purpose of fighting COVID.
The World Trade Organization debated and eventually introduced a controversial patent waiver for vaccines.
And Moderna, one of the lead vaccine manufacturers, promised not to enforce its patents related to COVID against other vaccine manufacturers while the pandemic was ongoing.
But this August, Moderna – where Shannon Thyme Klinger leads the legal team – sued Pfizer for patent infringement in the District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The company emphasised that it wasn’t seeking injunctive relief but wanted monetary compensation.
It’s still unclear how this dispute between two of the US’s largest vaccine manufacturers will play out. But the case is one to keep an eye on for a couple reasons.
First, the issues in the dispute are expected to apply to mRNA platforms beyond COVID. A Moderna victory could hand the company a large share of the mRNA market.
The suit could flesh out how patent pledges are enforced too. The company indicated that its pledge shouldn’t prohibit it from suing Pfizer, claiming in its complaint that COVID had entered an endemic phase.
But the way these arguments play out in court could have implications for how other companies approach these matters in the future.