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Sub practice

Antitrust and Intellectual Property

The collective expertise and technical know-how of our antitrust and intellectual property lawyers uniquely positions us to advise with confidence in cases involving the most complex science and technology.

Over recent years this area has been subject to increasing scrutiny from regulators. There have been a number of major cases on licensing and IP in which antitrust issues have played a pivotal role. We have been at the heart of some of the most high-profile cases at the interface between competition law and IP rights.

A key area of interaction between antitrust and IP is abuse of dominance/monopolisation. Investigations into companies with strong market positions are increasingly focused on the possible anticompetitive use of IP rights. The rules are full of complexities, with few bright-line thresholds and many grey areas. Companies need to be able to navigate their way through, as abusive conduct can carry severe penalties which may reach hundreds of millions of euros or dollars. We have wide experience of assisting companies in assessing their position in the market and formulating commercial strategies to help them stay on the right side of the line. We also act for firms that have been the victim of abusive conduct, helping to bring successful complaints against dominant companies.

With an exceptional IP, technology and life sciences practice – one of only a few leading international law firms with a significant multinational market presence in the IP field – we have the ability to advise our clients on competition and IP work, including IP litigation, at the highest levels. Our technical specialists at the nexus of antitrust and IP law are able to represent clients in the most complex licensing, research and development and IP infringement matters.

As the interplay between IP rights and competition law increases, our clients benefit from this complementary specialist expertise and our ability to devise effective strategies to protect their commercial and IP rights.

Some of the current issues on which we advise include:

  • Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), FRAND licensing and injunctions
  • Comparative law issues arising from divergent approaches between the laws of the United States and the European Union (EU)
  • Competition law regarding technology innovation and licensing, including in relation to the R&D Block Exemption and the Technology Transfer Block Exemption
  • Patent settlements, 'pay for delay' and other practices aimed at deferring the entry of generics to the market, and issues related to the pricing and reimbursement of medicinal products
  • Unilateral refusals to license parallel imports, and grey market goods copyright licensing

News & insights

Mastercard

Publications: 30 JULY 2019

Blow to applicants in UK class actions as MasterCard wins right to appeal

The UK class action regime must take a break whilst the Supreme Court (UKSC) hears the appeal in Merricks v MasterCard concerning the proper approach to certification of a class action. Two applications for a Collective Proceedings Order (CPO) brought by organisations aiming to recover damages from truck manufacturers have already been adjourned. However the effect will also be felt by all similar CPO applicants until the law is settled by the UKSC. With the UKSC unlikely to hear the appeal in Merricks until Spring or Summer 2020, clarification of the law is unlikely until late 2020 or early 2021. This is a blow to applicants, who will be forced to sit tight until then. However, with such significant implications for the UK class-action regime – and with potentially billions at stake – it is vital that the UKSC gives a definitive ruling in Merricks.  

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Key Regulatory Topics

Publications: 23 JULY 2019

European Commission publishes guidelines to estimate passing-on in private damages actions: summary and Belgian view

The EC published guidelines for national courts to estimate the share of overcharge that is passed on.  These non-binding guidelines explain the factors impacting the existence and magnitude of passing-on effects and methods to quantify such effects.

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Publications: 09 OCTOBER 2018

The Italian Antitrust Authority has published the guidelines on compliance programmes

​On October 4 the IAA has adopted the guidelines on how to structure an antitrust compliance programme and its treatment in the context of an antitrust investigation. They make clear that only compliance programme satisfying international best practices will be rewarded. Also considering the increasing level of fines imposed by the IAA and the proliferation of antitrust damages actions which will likely soon be strengthened by a reformed class action currently in course of approval by the Italian parliament, now is the time to implement an effective antitrust compliance programme.

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Publications: 25 JULY 2018

UK Government proposes far-reaching national security investment powers

On 24 July 2018 the UK Government published a White Paper setting out proposed new powers for the UK Government to intervene in deals on grounds of national security. The Government’s aim is to “protect national security from hostile actors using ownership of, or influence over, businesses and assets to harm the country”.

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