Raphael De Conink ‘Innovation in EU Merger Control’ (2016) Competition Law & Policy Debate 2(3) 41

This paper – which can be found here – argues that these a consistent framework for taking account innovation is necessary in EU merger control. The article is structured as follows: Section 1 refers to recent Commission decisions addressing the impact of mergers on innovation. In particular, the Commission has been more interventionist in recent pharmaceutical mergers, such as in Novartis/GSK Oncology and in Pfizer/Hospira, and requested divestments of pipeline products – including, in some cases, products at an early stage of development. The Commission has also stressed the need to protect innovation as a rationale for divestment in other technology-driven industries, most recently and prominently in the context of the GE/Alstom. Section 2 summarises some of the economic evidence and debate on this topic. We are treated to a review of the literature on competition and innovation. There is a wealth of empirical analysis addressing the potential effects of competition on innovation. While the insights of such research do…

Reinhilde Veugelers ‘Innovation in EU merger control: Walking the talk’ Bruegel Policy Contribution 2012/04, February 2012

This relatively old paper – which can be found here – argues that the Commission makes all the right sounds on innovation, but it is not putting its “talk” into practice. Few cases have been actually examined for their innovation effects, and even in these few cases innovation effects have not been decisive for the ultimate competition assessments. In particular, verifiability seems to be a major constraint for DG COMP, preventing it from fully incorporating innovation effects into its analyses. The paper begins with a review of how the Commission took innovation claims into account in merger control assessments up until 2012. This section concludes that, while the Commission can take efficiencies into account as part of its substantive analysis of the consequences of a merger – usually to counterbalance perceived anti-competitive effects –, the evidence is that the Commission has made little use of this option. On the basis of the limited sample of cases where efficiencies were explicitly…

Nicolas Petit ‘Significant Impediment to Industry Innovation: A Novel Theory of Harm in EU Merger Control?’ ICLE Antitrust & Consumer Protection Research Program White Paper 2017-1

This paper – which can be found here – discusses a novel theory of harm applicable in EU merger control (Nicolas Petit ‘Significant Impediment to Industry Innovation: A Novel Theory of Harm in EU Merger Control?’). Under this theory, the Commission can intervene in mergers that reduce innovation incentives in an industry as a whole. The author considers that this theory focuses on identifying on Significant Impediment to Industry Innovation (“SIII”). This paper first attempts to describe the content and extent of the SIII theory. Second, it attempts to show that the SIII theory is a marked departure from established EU merger control practice. Third, it discusses the economic foundations of the SIII theory. Finally, it puts forward best practices for the assessment of mergers in R&D intensive industries. We will now look at each in turn. SIII theory provides that a merger can and should be prohibited where it can be demonstrated that it will “lead to a reduction of innovation” in a…

Alexander Galetovic & Stephen Haber ‘The Fallacies of Patent Hold Up Theory’ (2017) Journal of Competition Law & Economics, 13(1) 1

This paper – which can be found here – criticises the patent hold-up theory, which underpins most antitrust concerns regarding SEPs. The first section describes patent hold-up theory, which is said to: “consist of five nested claims. First, that patent owners can systematically overcharge manufacturers for licenses to their patents through the economic mechanism of holdup—the opportunistic appropriation of a downstream firm’s quasi rents (revenues in excess of short-run costs). Second, that when there are multiple patent holders, each practicing holdup on a downstream firm, cumulative patent royalty rates become astronomically high—a phenomenon patent-holdup theorists termed “royalty stacking. Third, that the holdup problem is exacerbated when patented technologies are included in the industry standards necessary to make IT products interoperable and compatible. Fourth, that patent holdup, royalty stacking, and the inclusion of patented technologies in industry  standards are strangling innovation, most particularly in SEP-intensive IT products. Fifth, that the government must intervene to solve this problem; the market, left on…

Jorge L. Contreras, Fabian Gaessler, Christian Helmers, Brian J. Love ‘Litigation of Standards-Essential Patents in Europe: A Comparative Analysis’Berkeley Technology Law Journal (2018, forthcoming)

This paper – which can be seen here – provides a comparative empirical study of European patent litigation relating to standards essential patents (SEPs). The paper begins with a description of SEPs and, more interestingly for our purposes, of the contexts in which SEP litigation arises. The simpler type of litigation occurs when the holder of a SEP and its potential licensee disagree whether an offered royalty rate is, indeed, FRAND. However, some SEP holders’ transfer patents to non-practicing entities (NPEs), including patent assertion entities (PAEs), for a variety of financial and strategic reasons. This practice is sometimes referred to as “privateering”. There are already a number of well-known cases involving SEP assertions by PAEs and other NPEs.  Moreover, there is increasing evidence that operating firms, often participants in SDOs, have been transferring significant numbers of SEPs to PAEs for enforcement purposes in privateering transactions. PAEs accounted for approximately 19% of patent assertions between 2000 and 2008 in Germany and 9%…

Richard A. Epstein and Kayvan B. Noroozi ‘Why Incentives for “Patent Holdout” Threaten to Dismantle FRAND, and Why It Matters’ IP² Working Paper No. 17006

This paper – which can be found here – argues that existing regulatory and judicial activity has unduly protected implementers (i.e. potential licensees) against SEP holders. In particular, the authors: “stress that implementers owe a significant duty to negotiate FRAND licenses in good faith, which courts have largely overlooked and underenforced. We demonstrate that implementers’ good faith obligations are a critical component of basic FRAND architecture that is strictly necessary to the development of innovation-driven standards. (…) [FRAND enables] the standards development effort to yield commercial benefits that would not exist absent innovators’ voluntary participation. We show both theoretically and empirically that courts’ failure to appreciate these aspects of the FRAND bargain, combined with their over-reliance on liability rules, i.e., damages over injunctions, incentivizes the very patent holdout problem FRAND was intended to avoid. That outcome, in turn, has motivated innovators to reduce their participation in FRAND bargains, threatening to unravel a massive innovation-commercialization marketplace, and its innumerable positive externalities to…

Koren W. Wong-Ervin, Evan Hicks, and Ariel Slonim ‘Tying and Bundling Involving Standard-Essential Patents’ (2017) George Mason Law Review 24 1091

This paper – which can be found here –  slooks at whether it is “unfair” (and therefore unlawful) for a SEP holder to license its patents, including both SEPs and non-SEPs, on a portfolio basis. The basic argument is that “SEP and non-SEP portfolio theories of harm” advanced thus far are not economically sound (this is unsurprising, given that the very first sentence of the article is: “Competition agencies around the world have taken the unwarranted position that antitrust enforcement involving standard-essential patents (SEPs) upon which a patent holder has made an assurance to license on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms should be subject to special rules or unique presumptions and burdens of proof” (emphasis is mine)). Instead, for these portfolios to infringe competition law there: “would have to be an exclusionary effect on other sellers because bundling thwarts buyers’ desire to purchase substitutes for one or more of the goods in the bundle from those other sellers to an…

Robin Cooper Feldman ‘Patent and Antitrust – Differing Shades of Meaning’ (2008) Virginia Journal of Law & Technology 13 5

This paper – which can be found here – focuses on how “patent law and antitrust law often use the same concepts and terminology with differing meanings and contexts.” The confusions this gives rise to “threatens any attempt to reconcile the two bodies of law. Most importantly, ignoring asymmetries can lead to both underprotection and overprotection of patent rights, as well as the improper application of antitrust laws”. The paper begins with a history of the relationship between IP and antitrust.  From the beginning, there were tensions between IP and antitrust, given that “patent law encourages monopoly and antitrust law opposes monopolization.” However, this terminology risks confusing things. Competition law “focuses its wrath on companies that try to gain or maintain monopoly power by inappropriately suppressing competition”. Patent law, on the other hand, “grants only a negative right, the right to exclude. That right brings the possibility of obtaining a monopoly in a given market, but a patent is certainly…

Sandra Marco Colino, Niamh Dunne, Knut Fournier, Sofia Pais, Derek Ritzmann ‘The Lundbeck case and the Concept of Potential Competition’ (2017) Concurrences n° 2-2017

This paper – which can be found here – contains the reflections of a number of legal scholars about European decisions regarding reverse settlement payments (also known as “pay for delay” agreements). Reverse settlement payments consist of payments by the owner of IP rights to entities that are challenging such rights in court – and they are particularly important in the pharmaceutical sector, where producers of generic drugs may challenge the IP of branded drugs, and the owner of the drug may pay the generics’ company not to challenge his/her/its IP (and, thus, not to enter the market). As noted in the introduction: “Schemes of this nature are bound to set off alarm bells in the mind of the antitrust erudite. Delaying the entry of would-be competitors would almost certainly entail pushing back the benefits typically derived from a competitive market, the very ones that competition law was designed to protect. And yet the fact remains that, when reverse payment agreements are entered…

Matthew Sipe ‘Patent Privateers and Antitrust Fears’ (2016) 22 Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev. 191

this paper – which can be found here – deals with the relationship between patent assertion entities (a.k.a. patent trolls) and antitrust. This relates to privateering,  a practice through which a firm sponsors the assertion of IP claims by third parties (so-called patent assertion entities (“PAEs”)) with the ultimate objective of raising competitors’ costs without disclosing who is ultimately behind this practice. However,  PAEs act for themselvesin most cases, and their actions are not necessarily anti-competitive. PAEs are merely entities that acquire and enforce patents without actually practicing them – their business model is predicated on acquiring licensing fees from entities that actually provide goods and services (so-called “operating entities”). PAEs have been severely criticised, and it has been suggested that antitrust be deployed against them.  At first glance, the nexus between antitrust law and PAEs seems clear: if litigious patent trolls are unfairly deteriorating the markets for various patented goods, antitrust law can step in and reassert the proper rules…