Centre for Law, Economics and Society


Brands, Competition and IP Law

02 December 2011, 9:00 am–6:00 pm

Event Information

Open to



Organised by UCL's Centre for Law, Economics & Society, the UCL Institute of Brand and Innovation Law (IBIL), and the Institute for Consumer and Antitrust Studies (Loyola University Chicago)



About the conference

Brands matter. In modern times, brands and brand management have become a central feature of the modern economy and a staple of business theory and business practice. Coca-Cola, Nike, Google, Disney, Apple, Microsoft, BMW, Marlboro, IBM, Kellogg’s, Louis-Vuitton, and Virgin are all large companies, but they are also brands that present powerful, valuable tools for business. Business is fully aware of that power and value.

Contrary to the law’s conception of trademarks, brands are used to indicate far more than source and/or quality. Indeed those functions are far down on the list of what most businesses want for their brands. Brands allow businesses to reach consumers directly with messages regarding emotion, identity, and self-worth such that consumers are no longer buying a product but buying a brand.

Businesses pursue that strategy to move beyond price, product, place, and position and create the idea that a consumer should buy a branded good or service at a higher price than the consumer might otherwise pay. Branding explicitly contemplates reducing or eliminating price competition as the brand personality cannot be duplicated. In addition, this practice can be understood as a product differentiation tactic which allows a branded good to turn a commodity into a special category that sees higher margins compared to the others in that market space.

In other words, brands have important effects on competition and the marketplace. Given that both IP law and competition law address business competition, one might expect them to address brands as they fit into each doctrine’s areas of concern and that together trademark and competition law would offer a coherent legal regime to manage the way in which brands affect competition. That, however, is not the case. 

The aim of this conference is to reflect on the legal and economic understanding of brands by explaining what brands are and how they function, how trademark and competition law integrate brands in their framework and if this is satisfactory, and the role brands play in business competition. The conference will also delve into specific issues raised by branding in the 21st century business competition, such as the challenges raised by online business and the increasing role of private labels in distribution.

Brands and Neoclassical Price Theory: Friends or Foes?


Dr Amelia Fletcher (Chief Economist, OFT)
Dr Peter Davis (Senior Vice-President, Compass Lexecon)


Dr Ioannis Lianos (UCL Laws)

Brands in Competition Law I: Private Labels, National Brands and Retail Competition


Edward Anderson (Head of Competition, Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd)
Simon Pritchard (Allen & Overy LLP)
Christian Ahlborn (Linklaters LLP) 
Simon Baxter (Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP)


Professor Spencer Weber Waller (Loyola University Chicago)

Brands and the Interaction between Competition Law and Trade Mark Law


Professor Spencer Weber Waller (Loyola University Chicago)
John Noble (British Brands Group)
Professor Johanna Gibson (QMIPRI, Queen Mary University of London)
Dr Ioannis Lianos (UCL Laws)


The Rt Hon Prof. Sir Robin Jacob

Brands and IP Law


Deven Desai (Google, Inc)
Dr Dev Gangjee (LSE)
Tony Appleton (Procter & Gamble)
The Rt Hon Prof. Sir Robin Jacob