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Licensing agreements for the transfer of technology under EU competition law

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Frist: 03/02/2012

The EU competition rules for licensing agreements are set out in Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Article 101 prohibits agreements between companies which lead to an appreciable restriction of competition.

Enforcement of this primary rule is complemented by two instruments, the technology transfer block exemption regulation ("TTBER") and accompanying Guidelines (see legislation in force).

The TTBER creates a safe harbour for technology transfer agreements under EU competition law. The Guidelines provide guidance on the application of the TTBER as well as on the application of EU competition law to technology transfer agreements that fall outside the safe harbour of the TTBER. The competition rules aim to strengthen the incentives for initial R&D, facilitate diffusion of intellectual property and generate market competition.

These instruments will expire on 30 April 2014. In order to prepare the regime to be applied after that date and to ensure that it both reflects current market realities and provides for the possibility of non-competitors and competitors to enter into technology transfer agreements where it contributes to economic welfare without posing a risk for competition, the Commission invites stakeholders to present their views on their experiences in applying the BER and the accompanying Guidelines in practice. Receiving feedback from stakeholders is a key element of this review.

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