The EC Commission’s Review of the EU Competition Rules on Horizontal Agreements

Paul Lugard, Sep 15, 2010

It is no wonder that the revisions of the block exemption regulations for research and development agreements and specialization agreements, as well as the changes to the Horizontal Guidelines that the EC Commissions has proposed, have given rise to a lively debate on the proper regulation of agreements under EC antitrust law between actual and potential competitors and have uncovered some thorny policy issues. There are two principal reasons for this.

First, for many companies co-operation with competitors is key to their ability to develop and market both existing and innovative products. For instance, it is likely that the introduction of the CD technology as we know it would have been seriously delayed, or would not have taken place at all, if antitrust rules had prevented Philips and Sony from collaborating on optical storage technology in the 1970s and early 1980s. Similarly, the standard-setting activities in the telecommunications area that took place under the auspices of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (“ETSI”) involving many actual and potential competitors have greatly facilitated the introduction of the 3rd generation mobile phone standard. And absent the collaborative research by Genzyme and Novazyme, there may not have been a treatment for Pompe disease. Exchange of market information and benchmarking enables numerous smaller and larger firms to more intelligently adapt to market circumstances and to improve t

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