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Emcure, HDT settle legal fight over COVID vaccine technology


By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) – Indian generic drugmaker Emcure Pharmaceuticals and U.S. vaccine developer HDT Bio have settled allegations that Emcure stole HDT trade secrets during their joint work on a COVID-19 shot, the companies said in a press release on Friday.

The companies said they have signed a long-term agreement to continue collaborating on the development of mRNA-based vaccines and a license that allows Emcure to use HDT’s mRNA technology, ending a lawsuit in the United States and arbitration in the United Kingdom.

Emcure CEO Satish Mehta said the company was “delighted that the misunderstanding between us and HDT not only stands resolved but we have widened the scope of our technical collaboration.” HDT CEO Steve Reed said that their work will “bring life-saving vaccines to countless people.”

Seattle-based HDT sued Emcure in U.S. court in Seattle in 2022. It said it was developing a self-amplyifing RNA (saRNA) vaccine for COVID-19 that was “safer, cheaper, more portable, and likely more effective” than existing mRNA vaccine technology.

According to the lawsuit, HDT licensed its technology to Emcure subsidiary Gennova Biopharmaceuticals to develop and sell the shots in India. HDT said Gennova later claimed the vaccine as its own, applying for two Indian patents covering HDT’s technology and touting its “indigenously developed” shots in regulatory filings.

Gennova’s COVID-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use by the Indian government in 2022.

HDT’s lawsuit said Gennova broke their licensing agreement and requested at least $950 million in monetary damages. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit last year after finding that the court lacked jurisdiction over the India-based companies, but gave HDT permission to refile its complaint.

The case is HDT Bio Corp v. Emcure Pharmaceuticals Ltd, U.S. District Court for the District of Washington, No. 2:22-cv-00334.

(Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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