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Conflict Between Patent Law And Competition Law

In recent years, the interplay between Patent law and Competition law has given arise to many contemporary issues. At the first instance, the two might seem to be in perceptible conflict but over the years this has been disproved. On one hand, the former grants the innovators a monopoly over new product that others don't have access to whereas, the latter opposes abuse of monopoly position.

Basis of the conflict
The laws of Patent and Competition has evolved historically as two separate systems, the main role of Competition is to promote market efficiency whereas Patent grants the inventor protection and right over the innovations. The common perception is that there is an inherent conflict between the two due to rise in number of Intellectual property related competition cases.

The objective of competition law is to ensure that is fair functioning of the market. Anti-competitive practices include a range of activities, such as abusive exclusionary conduct by a dominant company, vertical arrangements between suppliers and distributors, charging excessive prices, refusal to provide certain goods or to grant licenses on market conditions, and other agreements among firms which lead to the distortion of competition on the market.[1]

Patent right holders are probably going to manhandle market mastery by means of different practices, for example, refusal to permit, unreasonable estimating, unfair or prejudicial authorizing, anticompetitive utilization of Standard Essential Licenses; abuse of predominance and deferring market section of contenders through abuse of patent/administrative process, as well as finishing up anticompetitive arrangements.

Interrelation between patent and competition

The interrelation between competition law and patent may appear to be fundamentally antagonistic, but it is not. IP rights provide their owners a heads up on the competition by allowing them to commercialize their goods for a set period of time. It is very much evident that during this time, the Patent rights holder will always have monopoly power and a dominant position. Monopolistic action has never been prohibited under competition law, but abusing such a position is a breach of competition law.

Changes in the law after some time as result of interactions in various cases have brought about these two regulations working pair instead of in resistance. It is important to examine the laws of different nations and how they have come about their legislation to address these issues in order to grasp the trouble in carrying out difficulty in implementing competition law and Patent.

Historical background of Patent Law & Competition law

By end of the 19th century, there was a huge development around industrialization which led to large scale investments, expansion of capitalisation, growth of nations and technology. This led to the realisation of laws around IP in order to protect the growing innovations and inventions in the world. By the late 20th century, the World Intellectual Property Organization was established which laid down some of the IPRs such as trademarks, commercial names, inventions of all fields human endeavours.

Protection against unfair competition, all other rights related to scientific, literary, or artistic etc. In India the primary regulation in regards to IPRs came into force in the year 1856, the Indian Patent Act was ordered in assistance of perceiving and distinguishing patent rights which was subsequently changed into The Indian Patents and Designs Act, 1911. Moreover, India is likewise a signatory to the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement which before long prompted Indian regulation establishing and recognizing different IPRs to resemble with the worldwide guidelines.

In the year 2002 competition law regime begun in India, until then The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act (MRTP), was previous system which commenced in 1969. The nexus between IP and competition has been a source of ongoing discussion, since the introduction of this Act. The capacity of India's competition regime to deal with market dominance produced by IP became highly significant in light of global events, particularly the responsibilities under the TRIPS and the resulting modifications to the IP laws in India. More than one provision of the Competition Act deals with the same thing.[2]

Both the subject matter act in complementary to each other, as a result it can be pointed that the term competition has to be used differently by patent and vise-versa.

The difference between Patent and Competition Law is that patent is a right, but Competition Law is legislation that functions as an artificial hand over the market. Patent is something that the government gives to an inventor or a reward that the government gives to a product developer to allow him to commercialize his innovation for a limited time. These two laws appear to be at odds, yet they are not, as evidenced by the preceding study, which shows that they complement each other by stepping in when one is violated.

  1. World Intellectual Property Organisation,, Last visited10 May 2023
  2. Lex Life,, Last visited10 May 2023

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Anu C Nanda, BBA,LL.B (Hons) - REVA University, Bangalore
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