Appeals Court Reminds Everyone: Patent Infringement Is Good For Competition
from the so-why-isn't-it-encouraged-more? dept
Of course, if you're playing along with the home game, you should already be scratching your head. After all, patents themselves are monopolies. So, if anything, you'd think that any antitrust argument would be focused on the patent holder rather than the patent infringer. But, here, RTI is arguing that the patent infringement itself is a form of an antitrust violation, as it's part of BD's effort to foreclose competition. But... again, that makes no sense, and the appeals court rightly calls this out and notes that patent infringement doesn't block competition -- it actually increases competition:
Patent laws are designed to secure for patent holders a time-limited exclusive right to exploit their discoveries, but this is “not the kind of public purpose protected by the antitrust laws,” which seek to “protect the free flow of interstate commerce.”... That a patentee may anticompetitively extend its market power to products other than those covered by a patent, and thus violate the antitrust laws, is well settled... RTI, however, cites no case holding the converse: that antitrust liability may be founded in whole or in part upon patent infringement. By definition, patent infringement invades the patentee’s monopoly rights, causes competing products to enter the market, and thereby increases competition. RTI, in fact, persuaded another jury of exactly this procompetitive result when it proved patent infringement by BD’s 1mL Integra safety syringe. The judgment against BD, which was then forced to remove the competing product from the market, diminished competition but enforced RTI’s patent rights.Of course, this doesn't mean that patent infringement is legal -- it's not. But at the very least, the court is shutting down the positively nutty argument that patent infringement might also be an antitrust issue, even though it increases competition rather than decreases it.