Competition Aspects of Public Licenses

Tomáš Kubeša


Public licenses have earned a strong position in both protection and transfer of Intellectual Property Rights. Public licenses are an essential part of activities of many companies, projects and even research grants and their use is increasing. This development means that IPRs and related products protected by public licenses engage in competition with products, protected by more traditional licensing schemes. Thus, even public licenses must be assessed through competition law scrutiny. Recent case law and scientific work clearly show that viewing public licenses through competition law perspective is a difficult task and requires a deep legal assessment and debate. Many known competition concepts, such as price fixing, RPM or abuse of dominance do not seem to cope well with many common provisions of public licenses. This article will summarise existing state of such debates, introduce competition law concepts into the context of public licenses and offer a solid competition viewpoint of public licenses. The outcome of this article will answer the question whether and when can public licenses breach competition law rules.


Competition, Public Licenses, Market Definition, Enforcement, Cartel

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