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Mohawks fling patent infringement sueball at Microsoft and Amazon

Tribe has sovereign immunity to legal challenges

A Native American tribe in New York is going after Microsoft and Amazon for infringing its patents.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe filed lawsuits against the tech firms Wednesday, a spokesperson for the tribe told The Register.

The patents, which deal with data processing, actually come from a US tech firm called SRC Labs. But SRC Labs, which would get a cut of any payouts, assigned the patent to the tribe in August, CNBC reported.

The tribe made a similar bargain to acquire a dry-eye medication from pharmaceutical wiz Allergan last month, but there is an ongoing legal battle as to their validity.

The tribe has sovereign immunity to patent challenges so legally they can't be checked by the US Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

A bill is circulating in Congress to get rid of this legal loophole for pharmaceutical companies to avoid patent challenges, which wasn't the intended purpose.

SRC Labs has quite a few patents.

According to its website, the Mohawk tribe hails from the northeastern region of New York State that cuts into Canada and Vermont. They were forced to leave the Mohawk Valley in the 1700s and wound up settling at Saint Regis.

In the 1930s, the Saint Regis Mohawks rejected the Indian Reorganization Act but still has a federal relationship with the New York State Iroquois.

SRC Labs and Microsoft declined to comment. Amazon and the tribe have not yet responded to The Register's requests. ®

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