European Commission publishes draft Technology Transfer Regime

The Commission has taken a new step in revising the Technology Transfer Block Exemption Regulation (the "TTBER") and its accompanying guidelines (the "TT-Guidelines"). On 20 February 2013, it published a proposal for a revised Technology Transfer regime in which it invites stakeholders to comment thereon. The deadline for the submission of responses is 17 May 2013. The full text of the draft regulation and guidelines as well as further information on the consultation can be found here.

The TTBER creates a safe harbour for technology transfer agreements, while the TT-Guidelines provide guidance on the application of EU competition law to technology transfer agreements. Both the TTBER and the TT-Guidelines are due to expire on 30 April 2014. In its proposal, the Commission introduced only minor changes to the current regime. These changes primarily relate to the scope of the safe harbour provided by the TTBER. If the current proposal would be adopted, passive sales restrictions between licensees; exclusive grant-backs; and termination clauses will no longer be eligible for safe harbour protection.

It is furthermore interesting to note that the Commission has not embarked upon any big changes in its framework of assessment relating to patent pools and other multi-party licensing agreements. A 2011 study on the interface between competition law and patent law, which the Commission commissioned as part of the revision process, especially focused on patent pools. Moreover, in its previous consultation on the existing TT regime, the Commission welcomed in particular any comments on the application of the TT-Guidelines to patent pools. Nevertheless, these preparatory steps have not yet led to major changes in the draft for a new regulatory framework relating to patent pools.