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Need to strike 'careful balance' in IPR related cases: Competition Commission of India

Date:2015-08-14

  As it probes cases related to intellectual property rights (IPR), CCI chairman Ashok Chawla said its intervention in such matters would be "cautious and balanced" to ensure that incentive for innovation is not undermined.

  "When intervening in IPR related markets, it is important to strike a careful balance so as not to undermine incentives to innovate," Chawla said.

  The Competition Commission of India's (CCI) chairman also emphasized that its intervention would be cautious and balanced so that enterprises in dynamic knowledge sectors maintain their incentive to innovate.

  Some cases of alleged competition norms violations related to IPR issues are before the Commission.

  Chawla was speaking at a conference on 'Interface between Intellectual Property & Competition Law' - Invention, Growth and New Challenges, organised by industry body Assocham here.

  Since licensing has the potential to enhance competition, most licensing arrangements would need to be evaluated under a rule of reason framework, he added.

  According to him, the challenges of defining the "market" are much more in innovation driven markets, which arise from rapidly changing environment as well as complexity of products and their attributes.

  He noted that problems of marking the exact boundaries of intellectual property may create analytical difficulties.

  "I may know exactly where the walls of my factory begin and end, but may be less sure about the precise limits the intellectual property protection accorded the technology that I use in my factory.

  "Such ambiguity could make it difficult to discern whether a competitor is legitimately competing with a protected intellectual property right or is an illegitimate competitor," Chawla said.

  Regarding the matter of alleged cartelization in airfares, Chawla said the probe is going on and added that it would take time.

  Meanwhile, he said that a final decision on its probe against realty firm Jaypee Greens related to a housing project is likely to be taken in next 2-3 weeks.

  About his views on the draft Indian Financial Code, which proposes to give more powers to CCI, Chawla said he does not know the contours of it.

  "I don't know what the contours are except for what I have read in the press. We don't know how finally it will take shape... That (IFC) is something work in progress," he noted.

  "We will see what are the powers that any new legislation give us but for the present we have enough powers which we presume we are exercising in the manner it should," Chawla said.

  When asked whether the regulator would be giving its comments on the draft IFC, he said a decision in that regard is yet to be taken.

  On reports that there could be conflict of interest if CCI officials participate in an event where the partner or sponsor is an entity that is under the regulator's investigation, Chawla said it would be "irrational" to talk of such a thing.

  "I see no conflict of interest in attending the function and give the keynote address for a day long seminar. It is entirely what should I say irrational to talk of conflict of interest... Advocacy is a statutory mandate which we have to follow," he said.

  There have been reports that one of the partners for today's event is under investigation of CCI.

  About the issue, Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said the association would "never be siding with A or B".

  "It is a recognized forum for last 96 years and it has never been alleged that we have been siding with one side or other," he noted.

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