In Illinois Tool Works Inc. v. Independent Ink, Inc., an ink manufacturer sought to invalidate patents held by a printing system manufacturer by alleging that the patents resulted in illegal tying and monopolization in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act. This action was preceded by an infringement action brought by Illinois Tool Works (ITW), which was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. Independent Ink (Independent) responded by seeking a judgment of non-infringement and invalidity of patents against ITW. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of ITW on both counts. The court of appeals reversed and remanded with respect to Section 1 of the Sherman Act, and affirmed the grant of summary judgment with respect to Section 2 of the Sherman Act. The Supreme Court granted certiorari. This case provided the Supreme Court with an opportunity to reconcile the precarious balance between patents, which supply the holder with exclusive rights, and antitrust laws, which were developed in an effort to curb market domination. Specifically, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether market power in a patented product should be presumed as a matter of antitrust law. The Court bridged the gap between the two overlapping sections of law and ruled that a patent does not invariably indicate that the holder has market power, thus shifting the burden to the plaintiff to prove that the defendant has market power in all cases involving a tying arrangement. This Note considers whether the Supreme Court was correct in deciding that there should be no presumption of market power in tying arrangement cases involving a patented tying item, as a matter of antitrust law, in addition to matters of patent law. This Note concludes that, while the Supreme Court made the correct decision in Illinois Tool Works, it failed to consider that its holding will have the effect of placing an entirely new emphasis on the term “market,” which was previously irrelevant, and the fact that the term “market” leaves excessive room for discrepancies among parties, potentially creating a flood of previously inapplicable litigation.
Kyle R. Friedman,
A Rose by Any Other Name: Elucidating the Intersection of Patent and Antitrust Laws in Tying Arrangement Cases,
Me. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/mlr/vol60/iss1/9