Business Innovation and the Law
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Business Innovation and the Law

Perspectives from Intellectual Property, Labour, Competition and Corporate Law

Edited by Marilyn Pittard, Ann L. Monotti and John Duns

Business Innovation and the Law analyses the topical issue of protecting and promoting business research and development. It does so by examining business innovation through the lens of different legal disciplines – intellectual property, labour and employment laws, competition and corporate laws.
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Chapter 16: Business innovation and competition law: an Australian perspective

John Duns


Innovation is central to competition policy. Indeed, in some industries, it is the primary means by which firms compete. The metaphors are dramatic: innovation is a ‘life and death matter for the firm’ and ‘a weapon in the arms race of competition’. Even more fundamentally, innovation, economists tell us, is pivotal to the capitalist economy as a whole. Baumol, in his book on innovation, declares that it is innovation that drives economic growth and that, without it, economies stagnate. Despite the well-established role of innovation in competition law and policy, however, the contribution such a perspective brings to the particular innovation issues raised in Gray’s case, the subject of discussion in other chapters, is limited. A contest between an employer and employee for intellectual property rights to an invention has clearer implications for labour, intellectual property and corporate law. The response of competition law to this issue, it seems to me, is far less clear. In broad terms, competition law and policy is concerned with the promotion of competition or, putting it in the more negative terms of competition legislation, prohibiting conduct that lessens competition.5 With this focus, competition law would seem to have little interest, in a general sense, in whether intellectual property rights are granted to an employer or an employee. It is true that there is a well-established interface between competition and intellectual property laws and, in a broad sense, some of this interaction may be relevant. This is because competition law, like intellectual property law, sees innovation as one of its key aims.

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