Protecting Your Technology in the EU

December 9, 2011

European Commission Consults on New Rules for Licensing of Patents and Know-how

On Dec. 6, 2011, the European Commission (EC) started a consultation on the application of the EU competition law rules to “technology transfer agreements” (TTAs). TTA is the EC’s term for patent, know-how and software copyright licensing agreements, as well as similar agreements.

The current regime consists of a “block exemption regulation,” which creates a safe harbor under EU competition law for certain TTAs, plus guidelines on the application of the block exemption and on the assessment under EU competition law of agreements that fall outside the block exemption. These rules, which came into force in 2004, expire in May 2014, and the EC is seeking views on how to replace them.

This consultation is important for any business that is or might be a licensor or licensee under a TTA in the EU, because the results of the consultation will set in place the EC’s competition law enforcement policy in this area for several years to come.