Intellectual property

A comparative study of Anti-trust and Patent

INTRODUCTION

Patents and Anti-trust may be misunderstood by many as being at odds with one another but that is not true.

At the core, Patents and Anti-trust work to encourage innovation and fair market competition. Patent is not against Anti-trust laws.

WHY SHOULD ANY PRODUCT BE PATENTED?

Without giving some rights to an inventor, the society would fail to protect his invention. Protection here means allowing the inventor to have exclusive rights to benefit financially for a period of time and gain recognition for his hard work.

When people cannot profit from their inventions, it kills innovation in the long run. Most people won’t feel so motivated to spend years of work inventing for others, maybe big companies to rush in, copy and profit off their sweat while they go home with peanuts. If a society fails to protect innovation, it will lead to low morale amongst inventors and this is not good for any society. People must be rewarded for their work.

DOES A PATENT CREATE MONOPOLY?

A Patent does not create an unfair monopoly in the market nor does it try to force fair competition out of the market.  Patent does not bring up unfair policies to quash competition or totally forbid it. In fact, Patent promotes fair market behavior by preventing unfair competition and exploitation. Patent also expires after some years which gives the public right to use the Patent.

To Patent a product, it must be fully disclosed. It is why the famous coca cola secret formula is not protected by Patent. The reason is that Coca-Cola’s formula is a trade secret and to Patent it will require full disclosure.

Anti trust laws, on the other hand, tries to protect a free market that encourages business growth and fair competition as long as they do not infringe on people’s copyrights, Patents, and other protected forms of intellectual property. This means that Patent is an exception to anti-trust. Anti-trust is important because it allows society to get the best possible products and still have freedom of choice. When a company monopolizes the market, it kills competition.

For instance, let’s say a country allows only one company to manufacture cement and maybe even brings up policies that favours only one person in the market, that society suffers.

Without some level of competition, the consumers suffer because their choice to patronize other brands will be denied them. When there is no competition, businesses tend to slack or misbehave.

If only one airline is allowed to operate in a country, it simply means that they can choose to increase their fares on a whim because they have no competition to check their excesses. Healthy competition brings out the best services and the fairest prices because every company would try to impress and retain its clientele.

A Patent owner is granted the power to prevent others from using his protected innovation without a license or permission for a certain period of time. Also, before a product is Patented, the entire makeup of the invention must be documented and kept with the Patent office where others can study it and probably invent new and unique inventions from it.

For instance, someone invented the telephone, another person invented the mobile phones we use today. These inventions will give rise to other ones even today.

CONCLUSION

Patent does not enforce monopoly like many people erroneously believe. Patent simply allows for inventors to benefit from their innovations while giving reasonable chance for others to thrive without encroaching on the rights or exploiting the innovation.

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About ToiyoAbasi Ekong

ToiyoAbasi Ekong is a writer and an Intellectual Property Lawyer who is based in Abuja, Nigeria. A member of Amnesty International, she is also keen on human rights and environmental laws. She has a thesis on Copyright in Nigeria, which she shares freely with scholars and persons interested in intellectual property. She loves to network with people, write, read, and bake. You can reach her via; email: toiyoabasiofficial@gmail.com, LinkedIn ToiyoAbasi Ekong or send a message to 09056270573.