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Earlier this month, Allergan Plc and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe made a patent deal, where the pharmaceutical company transferred its patents on dry eye medicine Restasis to the tribe, which has agreed to license the patents back to the company in exchange for ongoing payments.

This deal takes advantage of the fact that the tribe is treated as a sovereign entity immune to civil lawsuits, which could mean that the Restasis patents would no longer be subject to review by the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board and could circumvent inter partes reviews. Additionally, St. Regis holds 40 patents from a technology company and acknowledges it plans to make money from using those patents in lawsuits. So, many are concerned that if St. Regis can bypass IPRs, the patent system would weaken and might inspire others to engage in similar deals with tribes.

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