European Commission consults on new technology licensing rules

The European Commission has conducted a consultation on proposed changes to the technology transfer block exemption (TTBE) and accompanying guidelines, which exempt certain technology licensing agreements from the EU/UK competition law ban on anti-competitive agreements.

The current TTBE is due to expire in April 2014. EU/UK competition law outlaws anti-competitive agreements between companies. Restrictions in technology licensing agreements — where one party authorises another to use its IP for the production of goods or services — may be caught by this prohibition.

But the TTBE exempts certain technology licensing agreements from the ban, provided that the agreement does not contain any serious (or ‘hard core’) restrictions of competition and the parties’ market shares do not exceed certain thresholds. The current TTBE will expire in 2014 and the Commission has been consulting on what should replace it.

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