IP and Antitrust Policy: A Brief Historical Overview

41 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2005  

Herbert J. Hovenkamp

University of Iowa - College of Law

Date Written: December 2005


The history of IP/antitrust litigation is filled with exaggerated notions of the power conferred by IP rights and imagined threats to competition. The result is that antitrust litigation involving IP practices has seen problems where none existed. To be sure, finding the right balance between maintaining competition and creating incentives to innovate is no easy task. However, the judge in an IP/antitrust case almost never needs to do the balancing, most of which is done in the language of the IP provisions. The role of antitrust tribunals is the much more limited one of ensuring that any alleged threat to competition is real. At the same time, however, antitrust judges should not be reluctant to condemn IP practices once a real threat to competition is found, unless the practice has a clear justification in the IP statutes themselves or the explicit policies that the Supreme Court has derived from those statutes.

Keywords: Antitrust, Intellectual property, Patents, Copyright, Legal history, Collusion, Exclusionary practices, Misuse

JEL Classification: K21, L12, L41, O34

Suggested Citation

Hovenkamp, Herbert J., IP and Antitrust Policy: A Brief Historical Overview (December 2005). U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=869417 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.869417

Herbert J. Hovenkamp (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

407 Boyd Law Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States
319-335-9079 (Phone)

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