Intellectual Property and the Limits of Antitrust

Intellectual Property and the Limits of Antitrust

A Comparative Study of US and EU Approaches

New Horizons in Competition Law and Economics series

Katarzyna Czapracka

This book examines the growing divergences between the EU and the US in their approach to antitrust law enforcement, particularly where it relates to intellectual property (IP) rights.

Chapter 3: (Mis)use of regulatory procedures and IP

Katarzyna Czapracka

Subjects: economics and finance, competition policy, law - academic, competition and antitrust law, intellectual property law


The focus of this chapter is on how the approaches to state-created distortions have influenced the application of antitrust law to unilateral conduct involving the acquisition or enforcement of IP rights in Europe and in the United States. As explained above, enforcement of valid IP rights is largely immune from antitrust scrutiny in the US and the foremost means to challenge anticompetitive unilateral use of IP rights is to allege that they have been improperly acquired or enforced.1 Yet, use of regulatory procedures to achieve exclusionary goals does not, as such, constitute a Sherman Act violation, with the narrow exception of obtaining a patent by fraud on the PTO.2 By contrast, EU antitrust enforcers challenge the use of regulatory procedures and legal enforcement of rights by dominant companies if it has an exclusionary objective. For example, in Compagnie Maritime Belge, the ECJ held that requesting a public authority to enforce an agreement giving exclusive rights to a private company was an Article 82 violation. On a number of occasions, the ECJ intervened in the way dominant companies exercised their exclusive rights. In General Motors3 and British Leyland,4 the Court held that these car producers, which had a legal monopoly to confirm that a car of their own make conformed to a previously approved type vehicle, abused their dominant position by charging excessive prices for issuing the certificate of conformity. In Télémarketing, a state-owned company granted exclusive rights in a particular market was found to have violated Article...

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