Innovation is the life blood of business, and patents are the most powerful tool available to protect innovation. While patent law provides the inventor/innovator with the power to exclude competition, antitrust laws are designed to promote competition, creating a conflict between the objectives of these legal constructs.

Thus, when a patent owner asserts his rights, a defendant frequently counters with antitrust claims. The Supreme Court’s March 1 decision in Illinois Tool Works Inc. v. Independent Ink Inc., No. 04-13, tips the balance back toward the patent owner.