Townhall: A Victory for Innovators and Dynamic Competition by James Edwards
The Ninth Circuit’s thorough reversal of a thoroughly irredeemable district court ruling represents a decisive win for U.S. innovators in cutting-edge technological fields.
The Federal Trade Commission had brought a highly suspect antitrust lawsuit against wireless technology leader Qualcomm. The culmination in the appellate defeat for the FTC proves correct dissenting Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen’s assessment of “an enforcement action based on a flawed legal theory (including a standalone Section 5 count) that lacks economic and evidentiary support, that was brought on the eve of a new presidential administration, and that, by its mere issuance, will undermine U.S. intellectual property rights in Asia and worldwide.” She nailed it.
As the Wall Street Journal editorial said, “The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, in a 3-0 ruling, smacked down government lawyers who sought to hang Qualcomm for being successful and the federal judge who entertained their antitrust adventurism.”
This unanimous judgment illustrates how the exclusive right over a patented invention for a limited period ought to be understood in relation to antitrust. Exclusivity must mean exclusivity. Otherwise, patents aren’t reliable and don’t secure enforceable property rights.
Thankfully, the Ninth Circuit panel didn’t let the district court’s misreading of the intersection of intellectual property and antitrust stand. The trial court’s ruling would have inflicted far-reaching harm at the leading edge of technological advancement.