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Native American tribe sues Microsoft, Amazon over patents

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe filed a lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. over infringement of supercomputer patents that the tribe is holding for technology company SRC Labs LLC, Reuters reported.

The Native American tribe filed the claim in a federal court in Virginia with SRC as a co-plaintiff. SRC in August reportedly struck a deal to assign the patents to the tribe in a bid to try to avoid administrative review of the patents.

SRC reportedly struck the deal with the tribe to protect its patents from review by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, an administrative law body of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that decides matters relating to patents, including the revocation thereof. The tribe holds sovereign immunity under the 11th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which limits private actions brought against states and tribal governments in federal courts.

Pharmaceutical company Allergan plc in September struck a similar deal with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in an attempt to shield its patents from legal challenges. However, a Texas district court judge invalidated four patents that Allergan held, stating that the court had "serious concerns about the legitimacy of the tactic."