The American legal system struggles with the conflicting values of competition and intellectual property protection. Antitrust laws promote competition among businesses, while patent laws protect the exclusivity of one’s intellectual property. Problems develop when attempts to foster competition violate patents, which give the patent holder exclusive rights to his or her invention – a monopoly for a limited period of time.
A real-life example of this conflict was recently decided in a federal appeals court. In the Wellbutrin XL Antitrust Litigation, the court faced this confrontation in the context of a reverse payment settlement.