RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS: WORKING PAPERS

Competition Agency Guidelines and Policy Initiatives regarding the application of Competition Law vis-Ó-vis Intellectual Property: An Analysis of Jurisdictional approaches and emerging directions

Competition agency guidelines, policy statements and related advocacy are an important vehicle for policy expression and the guidance of firms across the full spectrum of anti-competitive practices and market conduct.

The role of guidelines and policy statements has, arguably, been particularly important in the context of the competition policy treatment of intellectual property rights, given the complexity of this area, the importance that competition agencies attach to it, and its importance for innovation, technology transfer and economic growth. As such, this important normative material also provides a useful empirical foundation for mapping relevant trends and the evolution of policy thinking over time and across jurisdictions. In this light, the paper examines the competition agency guidelines, policy statements and related initiatives regarding intellectual property (IP) of the following three sets of jurisdictions: (i) the United States, Canada, the European Union and Australia; (ii) Japan and Korea; and (iii) the BRICS economies (Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa). It focuses, to the extent possible, on a common set of issues addressed in one way or another in the majority of these jurisdictions, comprising: (i) the treatment of licensing practices, including refusals to license; (ii) anti-competitive patent settlements; (iii) issues concerning standard-essential patents (SEPs); (iv) the conduct of patent assertion entities (PAEs); and (v) competition advocacy activities focused on the IP system. Additionally, while the primary focus of the paper is on competition agency guidelines, policy statements and advocacy activities relating to IP, reference is also made to enforcement and case developments where they are helpful in illustrating relevant approaches and trends. Overall, the analysis suggests, firstly, that, in contrast to the situation prevailing twenty or thirty years ago, interest in the systematic application of competition law vis-à-vis IP certainly is no longer a preoccupation of only a few traditional developed jurisdictions. Secondly, we find evidence of significant cross-jurisdictional learning processes and partial policy convergence across the jurisdictions surveyed. Thirdly, the analysis also reveals the continuing potential for coordination failures in regard to the approaches taken by national authorities in this area, for example where jurisdictions take different approaches to specific practices such as refusals to license and/or give differing weights to industrial policy as opposed to consumer welfare or other objectives in their policy applications.

No: ERSD-2018-02

Authors: Robert D. Anderson, Jianning Chen, Anna Caroline Müller, Daria Novozhilkina, Philippe Pelletier, Nivedita Sen and Nadezhda Sporysheva1

Manuscript date: March 2018

Key Words:

competition agency guidelines, intellectual property, antitrust, innovation, licensing agreements, refusal to license, anti-competitive patent settlements, standard-essential patents (SEPs), patent assertion entities (PAEs), competition advocacy.

JEL classification numbers:

K21, L4, L41, L43, O3, O34

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Disclaimer 

This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. The opinions expressed in this paper are those of its author. They are not intended to represent the positions or opinions of the WTO or its members and are without prejudice to members' rights and obligations under the WTO. Any errors are attributable to the author.

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