Many countries have formulated policies and re-oriented their economy to foster innovation as it is seen as a major source of economic growth. Intellectual property, patents in particular, are seen as necessary to foster technological innovation in the globalized world. Emerging Asian economies such as Taiwan, South Korea and, most recently, China have increasingly embraced a stronger IPR regime. China, in particular, has witnessed a strong policy push towards investment in its IP systems, along with a new national IP policy. This resulted in rapid increase in patent filings and investments related to technology standards.
Patent regimes, however, appear to be in conflict with the evolving competition laws despite the fact that both regimes broadly intend to enhance consumer welfare.
With technology standards becoming increasingly common, particularly in the ICT sector, the complexities and contradictions at the interface of Intellectual Property (IP) Law and Competition Law have emerged strongly in the past few years. The ICT sector is also affected by the intricacies of the standard setting processes. Interoperability is key to ensure that technologies owned by multiple players, sometimes competitors, connect with each other in a seamless manner. In this light, the role of Standard Setting Organizations (SSO) and the various players involved in implementing these standards tend to influence practices and internal dynamics of this sector. Patents often protect technologies that eventually become standards. Those patents that are essential to the functioning of the standard (known as SEP) ought to be made available to everyone on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms. Complexities arise when both licensors and licensees of SEPs differ on what they mean by “fair”, “reasonable” and “non-discriminatory” terms, often resulting in legal battles and/ or investigation by competition or antitrust authorities. Regulators, legal practitioners, academicians and the businesses around the world are attempting to resolve such complicated legal issues related to determination and building consensus on FRAND rates. Allegations of anti-competitive behavior give rise to protracted court proceedings and regulatory investigations. Conflicts between holders of SEPs and recipients of such technology have raised several issues that are relevant not only in developed countries but also in developing countries.
To promote research and dialogue on these issues, Jindal Initiative on Research in IP and Competition (JIRICO) aims to bring together academicians, PhD students, practitioners and regulators who are engaged in this field. Towards this end, JIRICO organized a high-level international conference that facilitated intensive discussions to create a common platform for representatives from different countries, non-governmental organizations, academicians, practitioners, judges, lawmakers, professionals and scholars of international repute on issues in the fields of IPRs and Competition Law. The conference sought to broadly explore the following themes: