Competition policy and intellectual property (IP) policy are interdependent and affect each other in important ways. Competition agencies should not become involved in the IP-granting process itself, but they can undertake a variety of measures to promote a greater consideration of competition issues by IP agencies. When evaluating licensing arrangements, it is advisable for competition authorities to determine whether the parties’ relationships are vertical or horizontal. When evaluating grant-back obligations, it is advisable for competition authorities to distinguish between severable and non-severable improvements. Patent pools, like most licensing arrangements, are usually beneficial to competition. They may, however, occasionally reduce or eliminate it. When evaluating patent pools, it is advisable for competition authorities to determine whether the pooled technologies are complementary and essential. The nature of the biotechnology industry creates unusual challenges for IP agencies, which have been criticised for issuing biotechnology patents too freely. Too many patents, in turn, may lead to the unnecessary creation of market power and a slowdown in innovation. The nature of the biotechnology industry also presents competition agencies with substantial challenges and implies that an extra measure of caution may be warranted when contemplating intervention. This document comprises proceedings in the original languages of a Roundtable on Intellectual Property Rights which was held by the Competition Committee in June 2004.
Intellectual Property Rights