Commission launches consultation on technology transfer

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on a “Draft proposal for a revised block exemption for technology transfer agreements and for revised guidelines”.

The Consultation concerns the licensing of technology to other actors for use in their products. The Commission will be gathering stakeholder opinions on how to revise the current framework and intends to adopt a Commission Regulation in April 2014.

To do this the Commission has published a Draft Commission Regulation which would act as the binding legal act and a Communication provides guidelines on how best to ensure that any technology transfer is in compliance with EU competition law.

The current regime consists of two instruments. First, a block exemption regulation (TTBER) creates a so-called "safe harbour" for certain unproblematic agreements which are deemed to be compatible with EU rules. Second, Commission Guidelines provide guidance on the assessment of technology transfer agreements under EU competition rules. Based on these Guidelines, companies can assess whether the agreements they conclude are anticompetitive and could infringe Article 101 TFEU (competition). The current regime is set to expire.

The Commission in its draft documents is proposing several changes. Most importantly the Commission is proposing a new test for deciding whether certain provisions surrounding a technology transfer agreement, in particular concerning purchases of material or equipment from a licensor or the use of the licensors trademark, are exempted from Article 101 TFEU along with the technology transfer agreement itself.

The Commission is broadly considering the following changes;

  • Changed test for when purchase of raw material or equipment is covered by the safe harbour of the TTBER;
  • Lower market share threshold for certain licensing agreements between non-competitors;
  • Passive sales restrictions between licensees no longer covered by the safe harbour of the TTBER;
  • All exclusive grant-backs fall outside of the safe harbour of TTBER;
  • Also termination clauses fall outside of the safe harbour of the TTBER. 

The full text of the Draft Commission Regulationis available here.

The full text of the Draft Commission Communicationis available here.

This consultation ends on 17 May 2013.

Date: 17/05/2013 | Tag: | News: 131 of 1573
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