is an economics Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University, and a Kauffman Dissertation Fellow in the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Erik is also a recent graduate of Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. His research focuses on patents, antitrust, innovation, and the economic analysis of law. For more information, or to contact Erik, please visit his website.
One reason the PTAB is convenient for reaching reverse payment deals is that there is no direct antitrust oversight, since its judges are administrators with very narrow legal authority. Further, while there is a statute requiring agreements between Hatch-Waxman firms to be submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for antitrust review, the parties may attempt to evade it. The statute requires submission of agreements that relate to the manufacture or sale of either firm’s drug. The parties might therefore feel justified (rightly or wrongly) in not submitting a consent decree stating that the patent is valid and would be infringed by the proposed generic, since this does not expressly address manufacture or sales. Alternatively, it could be that the parties submit a district court consent decree (which includes no reverse payment), but not the PTAB settlement (which could include a reverse payment). After all, a PTAB settlement simply says that the parties agree to terminate the IPR – it need not declare the patent valid – and this arguably does not relate to manufacture or sales.