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Owners of intellectual property rights (IPR) can breathe a sigh of relief. On 29 April, 2004, the European Court of Justice issued its judgment in the controversial IMS Health case, confirming its previous position that IPR owners are generally free to exercise their exclusive rights, and that only in very narrowly defined “exceptional circumstances” would a refusal to license one’s IPR amount to an abuse of a dominant position under European Commission (EC) competition law. With this judgment, the court firmly rejected the EC’s attempts to make the exceptional circumstances of compulsory licensing increasingly unexceptional.

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