Glossary of competition terms

This Glossary is based on definitions from DG COMP’s Glossary of terms used in EU competition policy (© European Union, 2002) and the OECD’s Glossary of industrial organisation economics and competition law (© OECD, 1993). Each term is enriched with references of national case laws from the e-Competitions Bulletin and Concurrences Review.

Compulsory license

A compulsory licence is an authorisation given by a national authority (Minister, National Patent Office etc.) to a person for the use and exploitation of a patented product or process without the consent of the patent holder. Compulsory licensing is an exception to the main principle of patent law, namely that the patent holder enjoys the exclusive right to authorise the use of its patented invention.

The emergence of compulsory licences is linked to historical obligations in patent laws to “work” (i.e. manufacture and market) locally a patented invention. Compulsory licences were gradually applied in other cases. Other typical grounds for compulsory licensing relate to circumstances of exceptional nature such as abuse of patent rights, emergency, public interest (e.g. public health), dependent patents, or anti-competitive practices.

© European Commission

Glossary