Antitrust authorities around the world have increasingly focused their attention on the interplay between competition law and intellectual property (IP) law. Indeed, the European Commission, the US Federal Trade Commission and other enforcement authorities have shown considerable willingness to investigate and challenge IP-driven transactions in IP-sensitive industries, often relying on completely new theories of harm which require careful analysis. Investigations and litigation in this context can result in severe penalties including fines, injunctive relief, (treble) damages and unenforceability of agreements and patent rights.
At McDermott, we understand the business needs associated with the acquisition, licensing and restrictions on the use of IP rights. More importantly, we are aware of the strategic importance of IP and of the true commercial value of such assets. In helping our clients protect and capitalize on proprietary technologies, we focus on pragmatic and business-friendly advice, rather than providing theoretical assessments and opinions. Our antitrust and IP lawyers work hand-in-hand with a view to providing solution-oriented guidance on how to use IP most efficiently without risking competition law exposure. Likewise, we can advise on how clients may use antitrust laws to defend their businesses against anticompetitive use of intellectual property by others.
The apparent tension that exists between these two areas of the law stems from the fact that, while antitrust seeks to protect competition, IP laws grant time-limited statutory monopolies. Antitrust issues in IP cases most commonly arise in a variety of situations including concerns raised with respect to the licensing of technology, standard-setting and patent-pooling arrangements, fraudulent and bad faith patent enforcement, the exercising of patent holder rights in respect to an invention, and holders rights of standard-essential patents in their access to injunctive relief vis-à-vis parties.
McDermott offers a unique international platform for the coordination of legal and technical efforts, and a one-stop shop for global antitrust counselling. Our lawyers are not only highly qualified and dedicated professionals, but also hold invaluable insights into the enforcement priorities of antitrust regulators across the world.