Second Asia-Pacific Workshop on Innovation, IP, and Competition

This workshop was organised to explore contemporary issues at the interface of intellectual property law and competition law in different sectors. In an era of innovation and technological disruptions, it is important to deliberate upon different policy concerns and options for antitrust interventions. By having detailed discussions on contemporary IP and competition law developments in six different sectors (Agriculture, Automobiles, Creative Industries, ICT, Pharmaceuticals and Online Platforms), this workshop intended to provide the target audience a good overview of unsettled issues and potential policy interventions.

As our economy evolves, so must our application of the competition laws to be able to ‘catch up’ with the market. A highly competitive environment would thrive on inclusive growth, is key for innovation and technological change, and this environment is what pushes companies to constantly innovate. It is true that Competition laws were always applied to new businesses replacing old, however, today they are applied to a new platform as we move from ‘brick’ to the ‘cloud’.

Although Competition assessment does factor in market changes, the fundamental issue in the digital economy is how network effects may impact the relative market power of disruptive technology business model as people make choices on the online platform. We begin our analysis by raising questions on why there may be a need to renew market assessment tools to reconcile with the new digital economy. In the absence of a specific regulator, presently, CCI (Competition Commission of India) will have to be what FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has become – the “de facto regulator of Internet commerce”.

My research throws light on the debate going on around the world relating to the application of competition law rules to hi-tech markets in today’s new digital/ information economy. The author argues that it is important for the government to help assure that the industry will be shaped, during its current malleable phase, along competitive lines. Undoubtedly, vibrant competition is a pre-requisite for enduring economic success. It would be ironical if competition authorities inhibit innovation while pursuing their objectives of accelerating growth and competition.

Competition regimes, especially the younger ones in Asia, should not be too lenient on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and thereby miss an opportunity to engender greater awareness of competition law. Building competition awareness amongst Technology companies, especially the scaling online platforms through balanced enforcement, advocacy, with the idea –

  • Too much leniency may perpetuate lack of competition awareness.
  • Light touch enforcement with economic reasoning that gives a direction towards future approach of enforcements by competition agencies.

Thus, the issues that are covered in the research questions are –

  • The need to renew market assessment tools to reconcile with the new digital economy
  • Challenges relating to the triangle of Technology, Innovation and Competition ( implications of predatory pricing )
  • IP and Antitrust
  • Barriers to entry – analyzing business strategies
  • Regulatory Roles – differences in institutional set – ups
  • How there can be synergy between Government Action and Competition Authorities –
    • To assess all laws and government policies on the touchstone of competition
    • Government at the union and the state level to explicitly incorporate in all economic policies – the likely impact of the policy on competition and acknowledge the process of the market as well as the overarching jurisdiction of the market regulator.
    • Government must aid competition authorities to evolve a system of ‘competition audit’ which could be applied to all existing and future policies.

Methodology for the proposed presentation –

My research would be based on reference to:

  • OECD Policy Roundtables
  • FTC Reports
  • Decisions / trends set by competition authorities in US, EU and other jurisdictions on online platform businesses

Theories of harm analyzed by Schumpeter and other leading economists / authors / authorities on the subject.