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Washington — Allergan’s decision to pay a Native American tribe $15m a year rather than let one of its blockbuster drugs be scrutinised by the US Patent and Trademark Office is part of a backlash against an agency review panel that has been dubbed a "death squad".
The drug maker earlier this month transferred ownership of patents protecting a medicine with $1.49bn in sales last year to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe of upstate New York. The tribe, which will receive royalties every year, says that as a sovereign entity it is immune from such civil patent challenges.
The creative — and untested — manoeuvre is designed to circumvent the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, a five year old, fast-track review panel that is become the top US venue for multimillion-dollar patent fights. Pharmaceuticals, biotechnology companies, and other critics say the board has made it too easy for rivals to attack patents and they are pressing Congress, the courts and the patent office for changes.