Tahir Amin: Lessons Learned from Allergan's Patent Transfer

Tahir Amin, DipLP, co-founder and director of intellectual property of Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge, discusses lessons learned from Allergan's transfer of patents to a sovereign tribe.


What have we learned from Allergan’s transfer of patents to a sovereign tribe about patents in the United States?

Thankfully we’ve learned that the courts struck it down. They saw it for what it was, there was a decision in Texas where the judge called it for what it was, then the PTAB also said no, these [inter partes review, IPRs] will go ahead. Thankfully, we saw sense that a maneuver by Allergan to actually avoid its patents from being challenged was avoided.

Unfortunately, I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Companies have a whole toolbox of strategies and tricks that they use, and unfortunately, in a way they’ve undermined what the patent system was originally intended for. Now they use it for a defensive and business strategy; it’s no longer about a strategy for invention and progress.

Instead, it’s just as much about how to keep my competitors off the marketplace, how can I build my fences, how can I keep my profits at the highest, when, really, we should be allowing progress to happen in a different way. For anyone who is a free-market person, the way the patent system works today is antithetical to a free market.