IP/competition - Competition Law Association

The IP & Competition
Law Interface Part II:
Abuse of IPRs
CLA Evening Meeting
Mark Brealey QC
Robert O’Donoghue
26 June 2012
 Framing the debate
 Trends in IP/competition interface:
 Seismic shifts in substantive tests?
 Strategic use of IP top priority
 Wider tapestry:
 Pay for delay
 Other SSO issues
 Recent judgments
 The Google complaints
 Case C-457/10P AstraZeneca
Framing the debate (1)
 (1) IP has produced vast gains
for society:
 Innovation gains far exceed gains from
price competition and capital accumulation
 Social value of increases in life expectancy
due to advances in medical research from
1970 to 1990 estimated at $2.8 trillion per
year (Murphy & Topel (2003)) (US)
 (2) In reality most innovation is
 So focus on allowing follow-on
innovation is as important as facilitating
quantum leaps through strong IP
Framing the debate (2)
 (3) IP rights reflect vested
interests more than consumer
 Copyright term extensions; injunctive relief and
 (4) Type I errors probably more
costly in innovation markets
 Market works better/quicker than judge/agency
 (5) Twin “absolutists” of IP and
competition law wrong
 IP and competition are neither perfectly
complementary nor inevitably at odds
 Ideal for both should be to foster (conditions
for) dynamic competition
Framing the debate (3)
 (6) IP does not = market power
 Most inventions fail to yield a return
 But IP may lead to market power
absent constraining substitute
 (7) Core consensus on IP less
stable than competition law
 Most issues in competition law fairly
settled; discussion usually at margins
 IP system and trade-offs much less
clear and do not involve a “one size fits
all.” Error costs potentially disastrous
Framing the debate (4)
 (8) Commission and NCAs
neither omniscient nor
 Nature and extent of market power
may be a function of patent/copyright
rules (e.g., obviousness requirement)
and national IP administrative
 (9) EU still comprised of national
courts with full procedural
 Subject to equivalence/effectiveness
requirements/Enforcement Directive
IP/competition: trends (1)
 Move away from historical
existence/exercise distinction in
relation to IP rights:
 Respect for “specific subject-matter” of
IP and “essential function”
 See Volvo/Renault, Magill, and IMS
 Even move towards “exceptional
circumstances” broadened to include
conduct that “limits production to the
prejudice of consumers” (Article
102(b) TFEU) (Microsoft (reduction in
IP/competition: trends (2)
Assertion of IP/design rights
treated as anti-competitive in
extremis where bad
faith/vexatious (Decca
Navigator, ITT Promedia)
Vexatious litigation/bad faith
test replaced by more general
“competition on the merits” or
even broader “transparency”
test (AstraZeneca (see also
Reckitts (UK) Pfizer (Italy))
IP/competition: trends (3)
 “Strategic use” of IP:
 Samsung, Motorola (F)RAND cases
pending (see also Nokia/MS response
complaint by Google)
 Qualcomm investigation closed; IPCom
settled (see also recent IPCom v Nokia
(Roth J))
 Boehringer case closed 2011 (Boehringer
agreed to remove the alleged blocking
positions) (see also Servier 2012))
 Rambus (2010). Ex ante value of patents
may be small; essentially a comparison with
next best competitive alternative(s). But ex
post value may be enormous where firms
are committed to standard including
essential (but late/non disclosed) patents.
IP/competition: trends (4)
 “Pay for delay” cases (Servier,
Lundbeck, Cephalon, Johnson &
 Other SSO issues:
 Can a failure to licence on FRAND terms itself
infringe Article 101/102 TFEU? What is the
remedy? Nullity?
 Meaning of FRAND? Ex ante value?
 Injunctive relief?
 Knowing infringement (compulsory licence)
 Willingness to pay FRAND terms
 Discriminatory royalties. Defences?
 Aggregate royalties
 Transfer/sale of patents subject to FRAND
IP/competition: trends (5)
 Other case law:
 EFIM (2011): GC upheld principle that
lifecycle costing by consumers in
aftermarkets may mean no dominance
on secondary market, i.e., primary
market can discipline secondary
market price gouging (beyond short
term). On appeal currently.
 See also Case T-427/08 CEAHR v
Commission (different conclusion),
Investigation reopened by Commission.
Google complaints (1)
 Various EU and national cases
(e.g., Microsoft, (Microsoft) CIAO,
Foundem, eJustice, 1PLUSV, VfT,
VDZ/BDZV, Twenga)
 Main Microsoft complaint
crystallised around 4 allegations:
 Preferential treatment of Google own
“vertical” search sites
 De facto exclusivity in search advertising
 Portability of online search advertising
 Copying content from competing vertical
search engines for use in Google own
Google complaints (2)
 Unusual intervention by Almunia on
21 May:
 “I believe that these fast-moving markets would
particularly benefit from a quick resolution of
the competition issues identified. Restoring
competition swiftly to the benefit of users at an
early stage is always preferable to lengthy
proceedings, although these sometimes
become indispensable to competition
enforcement. In this case, Google Inc. has
repeatedly expressed to me its willingness to
discuss any concerns that the Commission
might have without having to engage in
adversarial proceedings. This is why I am today
giving Google an opportunity to offer remedies
to address the concerns we have already
Preferential Treatment Allegation
 Allegation is that Google’s own vertical (or
sector-specific) searches are favoured in its
Universal Results and OneBoxes search
 Threshold question of whether in fact this is
true: Google says no (measurement issues)
 Even if some factual basis exists theory of
harm is novel and controversial:
 Search results, including Universal and
OneBoxes are one and the same thing: what’s
being favoured?
 Search is art and science: results are Google’s
judgment about what users want
 It is normal for a firm to “favour” its “own
products” (e.g., newspapers)
 Refusal to deal/tying and discrimination cases
De facto exclusivity in search advertising
 Allegation is that Google has tied up channel
partners in search intermediation (AFS) and
search distribution in de facto exclusive
deals, foreclosing rival search engines
 Intermediation:
 Display of Google ads with Google search is part
of benefit to publisher in which Google shares as
provider/generator of the search results
 Multiple search boxes on the same publisher site
is unrealistic and Google permits those (rare)
publishers who wish to offer this to do so
 Intermediation a very small channel
 Distribution:
 Again, small – most queries come from direct
 Effective competition to acquire partners
 Agreements provide for default setting, not
Portability of online advertising
 Allegation is that Google licence terms for
AdWords API prevent or limit multi-homing
by advertisers
 Focus mainly is only provisions that: (a)
regulate display of certain bulk input fields for
campaign data to multiple ad services; and
(b) limit direct copying of such data between
Google and third party ad services
 Google says that clauses are proportionate
attempt to retain enhanced functionality
AdWords, an area where interests of
advertisers and tool developers may differ –
otherwise lowest common denominator might
 Multi-homing rates are high (80% US; 67%
UK); cross-platform tools exist.
Commission Decision: 15 June
Case T-321/05
Case C-457/10P
A.G. Mazak: 15 May 2012
 AZ manufactures “Losec” to treat
acid in the stomach
 Active substance was omeprazole
 Omeprazole going off patent
 Strategy to restrict generics
 Sought SPCs (supplementary
protection certificates) to extend the life
of the patent – SPC abuse
 Withdrew marketing authorisation for
Losec capsule and replaced it with
Losec tablet – MUPS abuse
 Two main types of treatment
 Incumbent H2 blockers and new
product PPIs (e.g. Losec)
 Commission found:
 PPIs more effective
 PPIs different mode of action
 PPIs different price
 PPIs in own market because H2
blockers did not impose a sufficient
competitive constraint on PPIs
 Dominant undertaking has a special
responsibility not to distort genuine
competition: must compete on the
merits: what does it actually mean?
 Exclusivity – small co. cannot
compete for each individual sale on
price or quality
 Predation - big co has deep
pockets: selling at loss not genuine
price competition
 SPCs were granted by reference to
date of first authorisation to place
the product on the market
 Earlier technical authorisation: or
 Later marketing authorisation
 Abuse was making a misleading
statement to Patent Office that the
marketing authorisation was the
technical authorisation
 i.e. Mislead the PO as to the correct
SPC Abuse (2)
 Consequently, not competition on
the merits
 Abuse was characterised by a lack
of transparency
 Bona fides or genuine belief in the
law (SPC regulation) was irrelevant
 Legal advice
 Reference to ECJ in Case C-127/00
MUPS Abuse (1)
 AZ withdrew the capsule version of
Losec from the market in some
member States, replaced it with the
tablet version and withdrew the
marketing authorisation for the
capsule version
 This made it more difficult for
generic companies to sell the
capsule (could not use the abridged
 A.G. accepts AZ’s argument that
the Pharmaceutical Code gave AZ a
right to request and to withdraw a
 However, the Code is subject to
Article 102 (Opinion para 78)
 What is the lack of competition on
the merits?
Thank you!
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