Indian competition authority gets in on the IP action

We’ve mentioned a few times on the blog the increasing global convergence of antitrust agencies, especially in the approach taken to ‘pay-for-delay’ settlements (see here and here).  I was fascinated to hear that India’s Competition Commission is also interested in enforcement on the competition law/IP interface, announcing recently that it is to look at patent settlements between Hoffman-La Roche and Cipla, and Merck and Glenmark.  Thank you to a reader of our blog, Natasha Nayak, for pointing this out to us.  Natasha has in fact written an article on the broader trend for the Indian agency to focus on IP-related enforcement, which readers interested in the region (as we certainly are) may want to read here.

While we’re on the subject, Canada’s Competition Bureau announced in September that it is likely to pursue criminal proceedings in some pay-for-delay settlements, taking enforcement one step further than any authority we are aware, in an area where there is still heated debate about the actual effects of such settlements.  If you’re interested in reading more, we’ve written a summary of what’s going on around the world in our life sciences publication, On The Pulse, called “Global convergence on ‘pay-for-delay’ settlements”. 

Of course, do let us know if there are any other developments in your part of the world.

A (belated) Happy Standards Day!

14 October marked World Standards Day, to celebrate the role of standards in developing harmonisation and competition in the 
European single market.  The Commission marked the occasion by holding a meeting with industry members and stakeholders, it also published this Memo
 
The Memo highlights that establishing EU-wide standards can help to improve compatibility, interoperability, safety and quality of products and services for consumers.  The Commission also suggests that the development of standards helps to increase access to markets by lowering output and sales costs and in doing so, improves competition.  Nonetheless the raft of litigation around SEPs (which we have blogged about in a number of previous posts found here) shows that all is not plain sailing in the world of standards.  It is in the light of these challenges posed by standardisation, that the Commission is developing a new set of guidelines to ensure “the sound application of the regulatory framework”; and it was this that was at the top of the agenda at their recent Standards’ day meeting. 
 
The Commission is also inviting stakeholders to take part in the discussion on the interplay between patents and standardisation – if you wish to take part in the public consultation, simply follow this link.  The consultation allows stakeholders to raise their views and concerns on how the current regulatory framework governing standardisation involving patents performs, and also provides a platform for suggestions as to how standardisation can move forward in a changing economic and technological environment. 
 
The consultation will close on 31 January 2015.  DG Comp’s study on Patents and Standards (linked to from the consultation) may also be of interest.

Commission Decision to increase cooperation with Member States on IP

On 16 September 2014, the Commission published a decision to establish a group of experts on the enforcement of IP rights (the 'Decision'). The background to the Decision highlights the Commission’s position on the importance of protecting IP, stating that to do so promotes innovation and creativity, develops employment and improves competitiveness. The Decision will be welcomed by those who have been calling on the Commission to take a stronger stance on IP issues (mentioned on this blog here) with the expert group forming a “platform for discussion” to improve collaboration between Member States. The group will comprise experts from national IP authorities and is tasked with improving consistency and developing a common EU approach. The Commission notes that the borderless nature of internet related infringements necessitates a concerted approach to enforcement. 

In addition to developing cooperation between Member States, the expert group’s work will comprise: advising and assisting the Commission on IP policy; monitoring the development of those policies and new issues, as they emerge; and exchanging experience and good practice in enforcing IPRs. A Commission representative will set the agenda for the expert group and as new issues arise, or attract Commission attention, the Decision foresees the development of temporary focus groups with a specific mandate and the seeking of advice from experts on an ad hoc basis.

For those interested, expert group submissions and agendas will be published in the Commission Register of expert groups.