Washington Law Review


In 1970 the Department of Justice brought an antitrust action against Westinghouse Electric Corporation and two Japanese corporations, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) (together Mitsubishi). The government alleged violations of section 1 of the Sherman Act. Since 1923 the defendants or their predecessors had a series of technology-sharing agreements under which Westinghouse granted licenses of its Japanese patents to Mitsubishi. It excluded its counterpart patents in the United States and Canada from the agreements. The government contended that Mitsubishi had become so dependent on Westinghouse technology because of the technology-sharing agreements that it could not enter the United States or Canadian markets without the patent licenses. Thus the licensing agreements restrained competition. The government asked the court to terminate the agreements and to require Westinghouse to license Mitsubishi under its United States patents. This Note examines the conflicts between patent and antitrust laws and refers to a framework for resolving these conflicts using the legislative policies behind the laws. The Note concludes that the dismissal of the complaint was proper but suggests that in not providing an analytical basis for its decision, the court failed to clarify the law involving restrictions in patent-licensing agreements.

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