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GIPC: Competition, IP Can Work in Harmony

Issued: January 08 2016

Hemant Singh


NEW DELHI – Is there a conflict between competition law and IPR policy? This was the question Hemant Singh, founder and managing partner at INTTL Advocare in New Delhi, posed while speaking during the second day of the 8th Global IP Convention here. 


If you go deeper into the law, there is an overlap but no conflict, Singh said. Conflict occurs in the interpretation, which is where the courts come into play.


There clearly appear to be conflicts: competition law curbs monopolies, while IPR policy creates them; competition law encourages competition, while IPR policy restricts it; competition policy controls abuse of a dominant position, while IPR policy allows a dominant position; and competition policy prevents anti-competitive trade practices, while IPR policy prevents imitation of innovations and creations, Singh said.  Ultimately, however, both policies seek to do the same thing: protect consumer welfare.


But how does one resolve a situation where there are conflicting findings by courts on one hand and the Competition Commission on the other, on whether the terms are FRAND-compliant or violative? Which one will prevail? In an attempt to limit conflict, the Competition Act makes is clear that the act does not bar the application of other laws, and also sets limits on the jurisdiction of the act. Ultimately, the two policies are regulated by two different organizations: the Competition Commission and the courts. 


So while there is overlap, Singh said, this can be mitigated if each respects the other’s jurisdiction.


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