Antitrust rules and Intellectual Property Rights in the EU and the US – Towards convergence?


In light of the exponential increase of the number of investigations raising the issue of how to reconcile competition rules and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), it is now clear that the area of Antitrust/IP intersection is becoming the battleground of antitrust enforcers around the Globe. In some areas inherently prone to market power accumulation, antitrust rules tend to clash with IPRs and prevail over the latter, for the intensity in the application of competition rules increasingly depends on the strength of the IPRs at stake, as well as on the sector involved. Information Communication Technology and Pharmaceuticals are the sectors most affected by this trend, as they both display specific market features calling for intensive antitrust scrutiny. Surprisingly enough, in these areas the EU and the US agencies are heading towards convergence, in light of the decisions taken in cases such as the judicial injunctions sought by FRAND-pledged SEPs holders and the reverse settlements in the Pharma sector. The purpose of this article is to show that in those areas more exposed to tension between antitrust and IP rules, there is an increasing level of convergence between the US and the EU. In particular, it is submitted that, like in the EU, the US is departing from the traditional symmetry principle under which antitrust rules are applied to IPRs exactly the same way as other property rights. In this new framework, inconsistency is more likely to come from the enforcement activity of NCAs across Europe.


Patents; ICT; Pharmaceuticals; US; EU, Intellectual Property; Antitrust

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Antitrust & Public Policies
ISSN: 2284-3272

Iscrizione al Tribunale di Roma n. 300, del 12 dicembre 2013, modificata con registrazione n. Reg. Certificati 216 bis/2019

Last issue published on December 30, 2019