Intellectual Property and Competition Law: Exploration of some Issues of Relevance to Developing Countries

Chateau de Penthes, Geneva, Switzerland
Monday 8th October 2007

Description | Agenda | Participants | Documentation


The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) are pleased to invite you to a roundtable dialogue exploring the relationship between product patent protection and pharmaceutical R&D in India. Dinner will be served.

The roundtable will commence with a presentation by Professor Carlos CORREA, Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies on Industrial Property and Economics and of the Post-graduate Course on Intellectual Property at the Law Faculty, University of Buenos Aires. He has advised several governments on intellectual property and innovation policy. He was a member of the UK Commission on Intellectual Property and of the Commission on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Public Health established by the World Health Assembly. Please find an abstract of the presentation overleaf.

Discussants Mr. Dhanjee RAGAN, Competition Law and Consumer Policy Branch, UNCTAD, Mr. Seyd Aku Asad Gillani GILLANI, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN and Carsten FINK, World Bank will prompt an informal roundtable discussion. We hope you will be able to participate to stimulate a lively exchange of ideas and contribute your experience and expertise to the dialogue.

This event will provide an opportunity to exchange views on the interface between IP and competition law in relation to developing countries, to review recent country experiences in developing countries and to explore the policy options that various stakeholders could taken into account when designing or implementing their own national competition law policies to supplement their intellectual property legal framework.


Intellectual property (IP) law subjects intellectual assets to the exclusive control of right owners. Whereas competition law seeks to avoid market barriers and benefit consumers by ensuring that a multiplicity of suppliers of goods, services, and technologies may effectively compete against each other. The relationship between these two areas of law poses policy makers uniquely different challenges, particularly in developing countries, the majority of which has little or no tradition in the application of competition law and policies. Since there are no international rules (with the exception of Article 40 of the TRIPS Agreement) that constrain the capacity of such countries to discipline IP-related anti-competitive behaviour developing countries can follow their own conceptions about competition law and IPRs. While much of the literature on IPRs and competition law focuses on patents, anti-competitive behaviour may be based or facilitated by other modalities of IPRs, such as copyright protection of software, copyright and collecting societies, in relation to trademarks, enforcement and border measures. In addition, low standards of patentability and shortcomings in patent examination may lead to the grant of 'poor quality' patents that can hamper competition. 'Patent pools' is another situation that may be subject to analysis from a competition policy perspective. Moreover there are cases in which IPRs play an important role and where actions taken by governments decisively shape competitive relations. This is for instance, the case of regulations determining the requirements for marketing approval of pharmaceutical and agrochemical products. Defining the right balance between competition and IPRs is an objective to be achieved through a diversity of policies and regimes. For instance, compulsory licenses can be used, both in the context of IPRs and of competition laws, to remedy anti-competitive practises. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations to developing countries in this respect.

© ICTSD 2004 - Last Update: 05-Oct-2009