Attempts by India’s competition regulator to curtail abuse of dominance stemming from intellectual property rights are gathering momentum. Shwetasree Majumder and Itisha Yadav analyse recent developments

The conflict between competition policy and intellectual property (IP) laws is an old one. While commercial considerations generally ensure that IP results in products that are made available as widely as possible, the benefits that IP rights offer in certain markets may not be enough to ensure that existing market players can continue to innovate and charge prices that are reasonable for consumers.

If the players in a relevant market have entrenched positions and can exclude competitors from entering the market, they end up monopolizing the benefits of IP rights in that entire market, with detrimental effects. This is where competition law comes into play, to prevent the abuse of dominance stemming from the exploitation of IP rights in this manner.

IP rights and competition law in India

It was perhaps in anticipation of possible conflicts in interpretation that Indian legislators drafted section 3(5) of the Competition Act, 2002. This section provides that any agreement for imposing reasonable conditions to protect IP rights, or to restrain infringement of IP rights, will be outside the scope of the act.

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Shwetasree Majumder is the managing partner of Fidus Law Chambers, an intellectual property boutique firm. Itisha Yadav is an associate at the firm.