This article argues through a US/EU comparative assessment of the intellectual property (IP) law goals and competition law goals that whilst the overarching goals of competition law and IP rights to enhance overall economic welfare are still complementary, internal conflicts within the two legal spheres are jeopardizing the achievement of these goals.
Within the IP laws the private/public reward/incentive to innovate equilibrium is now being tilted in favour of private interests due to recent developments in terms of rapid innovation in digital economy markets and technologies coupled with an expansion of IP rights and increase in patents grants and their width.
This has a knock-on effect on the application of the competition rules as a second-tier regulator of IP rights. However, the competition rules also face its own battle in keeping up with the fast-developing digital economy, the concerns regarding Big Data and online platforms raising questions about the sustainability of the ‘consumer welfare’ framework as an optimal standard to ensure effective competition in these markets.
Consequently, there is a danger that the competition rules and the IP rights will be out of quilter, risking stifling of innovation and harm to consumer welfare, unless adjustment is made within the two legal spheres.World Competition