Judge wants to know if Allergan’s tribal patent deal is a “sham”

Judge wants to know if Allergan’s tribal patent deal is a “sham”

Enlarge / CEO of Allergan Brenton Saunders addresses employees at a production site in Pringy, France. (credit: JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Last month, the drug company Allergan made news for a deal in which it gave six of its patents to a Native American tribe in order to avoid a patent review process called inter partes review, or IPR.

The six patents protect the blockbuster drug Restasis, a treatment for dry eyes which earns $1.5 billion in annual revenue. Generic drug companies have challenged the Restasis patents, through both IPRs and federal court litigation. Allergan agreed to pay the St. Regis Mohawk tribe $15 million annually as long as the patents are alive, because the company believes that the tribe will be immune to IPR under a legal principle known as sovereign immunity.

Allergan’s tactic has come under fire from the tech sector, from Congress, and perhaps soon, from a federal judge.

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