Minimising The Risk of Breaching Antitrust Rules in Research and Development (R&D) Collaboration
On April 5th, 2019, the European Commission (Commission) issued a Statement of Objections to several car manufacturers in Germany for possible collusion (see Commission Press Release.) The Commission is of the preliminary view that the companies violated Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) by agreeing to limit the development and roll-out of certain emissions control systems for petrol and diesel passenger cars sold in the European Economic Area (EEA).
The Statement of Objections is a strong signal to companies that the authority will look closely at technical collaborations to make sure that companies do not attempt to limit competition at any point during the co-operation. There is some comfort for companies that the Commission has limited the scope of its investigation by recognising the legitimacy of numerous areas of co-operation that had initially been under scrutiny. To reduce the risk of legitimate co-operation spilling over to improper areas under EU anti-trust rules, companies should, before engaging in technical collaboration, critically assess the need for co-operation and the benefits and detriments to competition, and seek to implement appropriate safeguards.
Reproduced from Practical Law with the permission of the publishers. For further information, visit www.practicallaw.com.