Competition, innovation and DG Comp – in the mainstream press (or at least the Wall Street Journal)


Some of you may remember that a couple of months ago I posted on this blog some thoughts about how competition enforcement might in some instances affect innovation, and speculating on the impact that the focus on short term efficiencies might have on the approach of competition policy and how that might differ from the approach of IP in seeking to stimulate innovation (here). I haven’t yet had the chance to follow up with some further considered thoughts on this topic, but the issue is not something that has gone away. For example, Sophie and Osman recently posted a discussion which touched on this issue in the context of the changes to the Technology Transfer Regime (here) and Sophie’s post on DG Alexander Italianer’s “Brave New World” speech (here) touches on similar themes .

Of course Bristows is not the only place where we wonder about the relationship between competition law and IP and/or innovation. I thought that readers of this blog might be interested in a couple of recent articles in the Wall Street Journal which explore more broadly the topic of the Commission’s use of its competition enforcement powers (here and here). While the WSJ looks at various sectors, including issues such as the use of competition enforcement in relation to the tax practices of multinationals in Europe, it is interesting that several of those commenting do draw attention to the possible clash between innovation and “innovative enforcement” and particularly to the interface with IP.

Doubtless the continuing debate about how the Commission should deal with complaints such as those against Google and that by ZTE against Vringo (here) will continue to stimulate such discussions – as will the decisions against Lundbeck and various generics last year and against Servier and various generics earlier this month.

Any thoughts on whether the Commission is getting the balance right, and on the impact of these decisions on how companies actually think about innovation would be most welcome.

Pat Treacy