Should a company be required to license its patents to a competitor?  That’s one question that arises when intellectual property law and antitrust law intersect.

The Sherman Act, section 1, prohibits concerted action (agreements, combinations, or conspiracies) that restrain trade.  Four types of conduct are per se unlawful; i.e., illegal regardless of the reason.  They all involve agreements between competitors, also called horizontal agreements.  It is per se unlawful to agree with a competitor to fix prices, rig bids, participate in group boycotts, or allocate markets.  Other types of conduct are unlawful under the Rule of Reason; their illegality depends on the conduct in the relevant market (the product market and the geographic market) and whether there is a rational business reason for the conduct.  Examples of unlawful conduct include certain types of exclusive dealing arrangements, some kinds of price discrimination or restrictions on sales, tying arrangements, and some mergers and acquisitions.
Continue Reading What Happens When the Intellectual Property Laws Clash with the Antitrust Laws?