The Italian Competition Authority adopts an interim measure ordering that a firm, dominant in the market for the production of a certain antibiotic, must grant a license for the production of a key ingredient of the antibiotic (Merck / Carbapenem)

Merck manufactures, and holds the patent of, a key active ingredient necessary for the production of an antibiotic (carbapenem) used in the treatment of particular types of infection. Merck's patent rights have expired in most European countries and outside the EU (except the US) but, due to the peculiarities of the Italian patenting system, Merck's patent rights in Italy would only expire at the end of January 2006. Dobfar, a large Italian manufacturer of chemical and pharmaceutical products, requested a licence to produce the ingredient in its Italian plants for export to generics manufacturers outside Italy. Dobfar needed a license from Merck because it planned to produce the key ingredient in Italy as it would not be economically viable to transfer its plants abroad. Upon Merck's

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