Guidelines On The Applicability Of Article 101 To Horizontal Cooperation Agreements

Production contracts differ in form and size. They may provide that production is carried out by only one or two or more parties. Undertakings may produce jointly through a joint venture, i.e. a jointly controlled undertaking operating one or more production facilities, or through more flexible forms of production cooperation, such as. B subcontracting, in which one party (the “Contractor”) entrusts the manufacture of a business to another party (the “Subcontractor”). As regards standardised implementing agreements covering types of IP disclosure models other than those described in recital (286), it should be considered on a case-by-case basis whether the advertising model in question (e.g. B an advertising model that does not require the disclosure of protection letters, but only encourages the disclosure of protection letters) ensures effective access to the standard. In other words, it is necessary to examine whether, in a specific context, an informed choice between technologies and related intellectual property protections is not prevented in practice by the model of disclosure of rights of access to protection. Standardization agreements often lead to significant efficiency gains. For example, Union-wide standards can facilitate market integration and allow businesses to market their goods and services in all Member States, leading to a wider variety of consumers and lower prices. Technical interoperability and compatibility standards often promote competition between different companies` technologies and help prevent attachment to a given supplier. In addition, standards can reduce transaction costs for both sellers and buyers.

Standards, such as quality, safety and environmental aspects of a product, can also facilitate consumer choice and improve product quality. Standards also play an important role in innovation. They can reduce the time it takes to bring a new technology to market and facilitate innovation by allowing companies to rely on agreed solutions. Where participation in standardisation is full and the procedure for the adoption of the standard in question is transparent, standardisation agreements which do not contain an obligation to comply (111) and which allow access to the standard on fair, proportionate and non-discriminatory terms shall generally not restrict competition within the meaning of Article 101, paragraph 1. However, Community competition law recognises that certain agreements between competitors can bring considerable economic benefits, in particular when they combine complementary activities, skills or assets. Such “horizontal cooperation” can be a way to share risks, reduce costs, increase investment, pool know-how, improve product quality and diversity and accelerate the development of innovation, which can bring benefits to EU consumers and trade, as well as attractive business benefits for the companies concerned (see further horizontal cooperation – checklist). Secondly, marketing agreements can also facilitate the limitation of production, since the parties can decide on the quantity of products to be put on the market and thus limit supply. The amendments to the revised chapter “Standard Conditions” increase the clarity of the factors to be taken into account in dealing with the standardisation process and the industry standards that are an integral part of standardisation agreements. .

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