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Politics, digital innovation, intellectual property and the future of competition law

Today, economic law has to face the two major challenges of economic nationalism and digital transformation. To respond to both of them, this foreword recommends to competition policy to maintain its focus on safeguarding the social benefits that typically accrue from competition, including innovation. To promote digital innovation, the foreword argues that competition law should play a more active role in controlling the use of intellectual property rights, especially with the objective to promote access to data. It thereby rejects the “New Madison” approach now advocated by the US Department of Justice, which tries to insulate patent law against the application of antitrust law. This approach is identified as an expression of current US economic nationalism designed to protect the economic interests of big US rightholders domestically and abroad.

We live in highly political times. While multilateralism, economic globalization and convergence of economic policies characterized the era at the turn to the new millennium, today’s world seems to drift apart. Resurgent ideologies and populism, economic nationalism and new trade wars have become part of the political agenda of many governments. Even in the field of competition law, voices get stronger that claim exceptions from standard application to favour national champions. The rise of economic nationalism coincides with the digital transformation, which is not only fundamentally changing the way firms are doing business, but also how individuals work, consume, interact and behave as citizens. Currently, digital transformation makes jurisdictions around the globe rethink the

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  • Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition (Munich)


Josef Drexl, Politics, digital innovation, intellectual property and the future of competition law, November 2019, Concurrences N° 4-2019, Art. N° 91838, pp. 2-5

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