Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology
Vol. 6, Issue 2 (2011)
Intellectual Property Law & Competition Law
Atul Patel, Aurobinda Panda, Akshay Deo,
Siddhartha Khettry and Sujith Philip Mathew
Kiit law School, Kiit University, India,
Abstract. Competition law an d intellectual property rights (IPRs) have evolved historicall y
as two separate systems of law. There is a considerable overlap in the goals of the two systems of
law because both are aimed at promoting innovation and economic growth.
Yet there are also
potential conflicts owing to the means used by each system to promote those goals. IP laws
generally offer a right of exclusive use and exploitation to pr ovide a reward to the innovator, to
provide an ince ntive to other innovators and to bring into the public domain innovative
information that might otherwise remain trade secrets. Competition authorities regulate near
monopolies, mergers and commercial agreements with the aim of maintaining effective
competition in markets. This article introduces the concept of IPRs and Competition law. It
highlights important areas of conflict between the two laws a nd also deals with the Indian antitrust
law. It concludes by trying to harmonize the conflicts.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Competition Law are both founded with the purpose of achieving
economic development, technological advancement and consumer welfare. IPR are legal rights governing the
use of such creations. This term covers a bundle of rights, such as patents, trademarks or copyrights, ea ch
different in scope a nd duration with a d ifferent purpose and effect.
Co mpetition la w seeks to prevent cer tain
behaviour that may restrict competition to detriment consumer welfare. In short run, IPR encourages innovation
and new products in the market, whereas in long run- Competition Law promotes consumer welfare by
introducing new products to the market and maintaining the qualities of the goods in the market. T hus both are
complementary means of promoting innovation, technical progress and economic growth to the benefit of
consumers and the whole economy.
IPRs and competition are normally regarded as areas with conflicting objectives. The reason is that IPRs, b y
designating boundaries within which competitors may exercise monopolies o ver their innovation, appear to be
against the principles of competitive market and level playing fields sought by competition rules, in particular
the restrictions on horizontal and vertical restraints, or on the abuse o f dominant positions.
IP Laws are monopolistic in nature. They guarantee a n exclusive right to the creators and owners of work
which are a result of human i ntellectual creativity. Also they prevent commercial exploitation of the i nnovation
by others. This legal monopoly may, depending on the unavailab ility of substitutes in the relevant market, lead to
market power and even monopoly as defined under co mpetition law. It is an advantage granted to the owner over
the rest of the industry or sector. When this advantage or dominant position i s abused, it creates a conflict
between IPR and competition law.
Jayashree Watal, Intellectual Property Rights in WTO and Developing Countries, 2001 (Oxford University Press) , at 1-5
Adv. Vishnu S, Conflict Between Competition Law And Intellectual Property Rights (August 13, 2010)