The strategy was breathtaking in its boldness. Just days before the USPTO was to hear a challenge to Allergan Inc.’s patents on a dry-eye drug, Restasis, the company transferred those patents to a Native American tribe; the tribe then sought to dismiss the USPTO proceedings by asserting sovereign immunity. Following this action, a number of other patentees made similar transfers to Native tribes, in order to protect their patents. More patentees were poised to do so, should this ploy prove effective. It, however, did not. On 20 July, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the tribe’s sovereign immunity did not protect its patents from USPTO review. The ruling thus kept intact a key component of America’s patent system.
Author: Steven Seidenberg