Clashes between intellectual property laws and antitrust laws are causing a headache for rights owners
Intellectual property (IP) and antitrust laws seem to be two areas of law that are in conflict. In IP rights, if we talk specifically about patents, then, on one hand, it gives monopoly rights to the innovators in lieu of disclosure of their inventions and on the other hand, antitrust laws ensure that there should be free and fair competition in the market. Patent laws safeguard the monopoly of the innovator while antitrust laws prevent the misuse of the dominant position by one player in the market.
Prima facie it looks like the two areas of law overlap each other. But it will be fair to say that the two kinds of law are complementary to each other as the aim of both is to encourage innovation, commercialization and competition in the market. Antitrust law in India is governed by the Competition Act, 2002, which replaced the erstwhile Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act).
The Competition Act was enacted upon the recommendations of the Raghavan Committee. While emphasizing the need for a new law, it was mentioned by the Raghavan Committee that “the present extant law in India, namely the MRTP Act, lacks provisions to deal with anti-competition practices that may accompany the operation and implementation of the WTO [World Trade Organization] agreements. Many of the anti-competition practices will have to be spelled out instead of having to rely on section 2(o) of the MRTP Act, which merely speaks of prevention, distortion, or restriction of competition in a very broad general sense. Specific provisions may be necessary to deal with identifiable anti-competition practices that may accompany international trade in the WTO regime.”
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