Matthew Hall Discusses EU Antitrust Issues of Pharma Patent Settlements, Online Retailers

March 8, 2017

McGuireWoods Brussels partner Matthew Hall wrote an article for The Licensing Journal titled “Patent Settlements and Antitrust: An Update on the EU Position” and was quoted in Global Competition Review regarding EU competition enforcement among online retailers.

A three-page spread in the February 2017 issue of The Licensing Journal featured Hall’s analysis of the European Commission’s position on patent agreement settlements involving pharmaceutical companies that originate new medicines and companies licensed to produce their generic equivalents. Hall’s column noted that the majority of pharmaceutical settlement agreements don’t raise the EC’s concerns about antitrust laws.

The settlements that do raise such concerns involve agreements that include: (1) a limitation on the ability of a company that produces the generic version to market its own medicines, and (2) a value transfer to the generic company from the company that originated the pharmaceutical.

A March 2 Global Competition Review article quoted Hall on EU regulation of online retailers’ automated data processing systems, or price comparison software. While some competition enforcement authorities have used similar technology to detect online collusion, Hall said he believes competition enforcers will continue to rely on third parties to collect the evidence they need to initiate such investigations.

“Clearly regulators do, however, need to be able to understand how ADPS [automated data processing systems] can work and have the correct people track it,” Hall stated. “Collecting enough [data] and then cleaning it and analysing it is a lot of work and requires specialist ability. . . . There will always be a lot of noise in data and it will be difficult to know where to look.”