It sounds like a parody, but it’s true, and far more convoluted than you might expect. The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is suing Microsoft and Amazon for infringing on supercomputer patents in a classic case of trolling.
It appears, however, that the tribe isn’t the one pulling the strings. According to Reuters, the patents in question were previously owned by SRC Labs LLC before being assigned to the tribe in August.
The idea is to use the Saint Regis Mohawk’s sovereign status to shield them from administrative review. The Patent Trial appeal board, which revokes patents, would naturally have a harder time of things.
In return, the tribe receives a share of any compensation, using it to fund increasing healthcare and environmental costs.
Not the First Time
However, this isn’t the first time the tribe has employed such a tactic, and last time it was somewhat unsuccessful. In September, it made a deal with Allergan for its dry eye medicine, Restasis. The patent was revoked on Monday by a Texas court.
Allergan plans to appeal that ruling, and it’s unclear how successful it will be. In all likelihood, Microsoft and Amazon will respond in a similar fashion, asking for the patents to be invalidated.
Meanwhile, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri is pushing a bill that will ban the misuse of tribal sovereignty.
“Congress never imagined tribes would allow themselves to be used by pharmaceutical companies to avoid challenges to patents, and this bill will shut the practice down before others follow suit,” she said on October 5.
It appears the bill was too late to stop SRC Labs, but could affect other attempts.
Microsoft and Amazon have yet to release an official statement on the matter.