Antitrust and Intellectual Property in the United States and the European Union


The United States and the European Union each have a strong legal regime designed both to protect competition and to foster innovation. Because the competition and intellectual property (IP) laws are occasionally in some tension, each jurisdiction has developed detailed legal rules that govern when and how competition law restrictions apply to IP rights. Recognizing that innovation benefits consumers, each regime presumes a patentee may lawfully use, license, and sell its IP rights freely unless that activity would impair competition on the merits by (i) coordinating with other entities to restrain trade unreasonably; (ii) unilaterally acquiring (in the U.S.) or exercising (in the EU) market power; or (iii) transferring IP through an anticompetitive merger or acquisition. This chapter summarizes and briefly compares the applicable law in the U.S. and the EU, and then identifies the most prominent differences between the two regimes. Note that, because most of the applications discussed herein concern patents, the term patents is used throughout to refer to all kinds of IP unless the difference matters.