Perspectives from Law, Economics and Political Economy
Edited by Meir Perez Pugatch
Chapter 12: Balancing Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Law in a Dynamic, Knowledge-Based European Economy
Duncan Curley INTRODUCTION The creation of a favourable climate for technological innovation is a critical component of the drive to make the European Union the world’s leading knowledge-based economy by 2010.1 A strong, harmonized and aﬀordable system of intellectual property rights (IPRs) is intended to underpin this policy objective, in recognition of the need to incentivize industry to undertake the necessary investment in research and development.2 Although IPRs vary, they are fundamentally monopoly or quasimonopoly rights. They confer a statutory period during which the proprietor has a legal right to prevent others from carrying out certain acts (such as making, selling and importing products) that fall within the ambit of the granted monopoly. Patents and copyright are two examples of IPRs that will be speciﬁcally referred to later in this chapter; others include design rights, trademarks, database rights and plant variety rights. The eﬀect of IPRs may be of concern to those responsible for safeguarding European consumers from the improper use of monopoly power. It is the European Commission which bears the principal responsibility for regulating the conduct of undertakings on European markets, by enforcing EC competition law, as laid down in particular in Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty, and by formulating competition policy. It is of course important for undertakings operating on European markets to understand how (if at all) EC competition law may circumscribe their rights, since this may aﬀect not only decisions on whether the cost of seeking IPR protection...
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