ARTICLE | Politics & Policy

House judiciary subcommittee holds hearing on sovereign immunity

November 8, 2017 11:24 PM UTC

Four IP and law experts testified to a House judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday concerning the use of sovereign immunity to shield patents from inter partes review (IPR). The hearing was prompted by the actions of Allergan plc (NYSE:AGN), which in September transferred six patents covering the dry eye drug Restasis cyclosporine to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. The tribe in turn filed a motion requesting that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) dismiss petitions from three generic drug companies that are trying to use IPRs to invalidate the patents (see BioCentury, Sept. 22).

In opening statements, subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) did not hold back in their criticisms of Allergan. Issa said he considers the transaction a "sham deal" with no purpose "other than to evade the kind of patent review that is currently in the law." Nadler added that the patent transfer is a "cynical ploy" to shield Allergan's "patents on a lucrative drug from review with the Patent and Trademark Office by taking advantage of a Native American tribe’s sovereign status." ...