Germany: Newsletter Antitrust Law December 2010

On 14 December 2010 the European Commission published new rules on cooperation agreements between competitors. The reform package includes revised guidelines for appraising horizontal agreements, as well as the two new block exemption regulations for categories of research and development agreements and for categories of specialisation and production agreements. Both regulations enter into force on 1 January 2011, but grant a transitional period of two years for those agreements which fulfil the exemption criteria of the old regulations yet do not fall under the new regulations. The amendments and innovations essentially concern the areas information exchange, standardisation, as well as research and development agreements between competitors.

1. The essential innovations

1.1 Information exchange between competitors

For the first time, the European Commission has expressed itself clearly and comprehensively in its new horizontal guidelines on how the information exchange between competitors is to be appraised under European antitrust law.

The exchange of information between companies can have a considerable detrimental effect upon competition. The Commission has made it clear that it generally considers the exchange of "individualised" information, that is to say information that is allocable to a specific market participant, concerning future market conduct to be a violation of European antitrust law. Furthermore, the mere unilateral publication of sensitive data of strategic economic importance by a company can constitute a violation of antitrust law in an individual case. This is especially – but not exclusively – the case with respect to future price or quantity conduct.

However, the Commission also acknowledges the fact that an exchange of information can encourage competition if it enables companies to collect market data and use such data to operate more efficiently and better meet their customers' needs. For this reason, other than in a few individual cases (e.g. exchange within a close oligopoly), it considers the exchange of aggregated market data (e.g. sales data or data on the costs of advance performance or components) to be less harmful to competition, because this does not as easily allow conclusions on company-specific data. Also permissible in the majority of cases is the exchange of historical data. Information to which all market participants and customers have equally easy access may also be exchanged. However, in the Commission's opinion, it is not already considered public data within the meaning of this appraisal if the costs associated with the procurement of the data are so high that they prevent companies and customers from procuring such information.

1.2 Standardisation agreements/standard terms

In its statements on standardisation agreements and standard terms, the Commission has now formulated "safe harbour" provisions for the first time. If the following criteria are fulfilled, the Commission will therefore generally not oppose a standardisation agreement:

  • All of the relevant competitors on the market have had the opportunity of unrestricted participation in the procedure for adopting the standard in question.
  • The procedure for the adoption of the standard in question is transparent, i.e. it must be ensured that the market participants are able to inform themselves about forthcoming, current and completed work and on standards concerning intellectual property rights.
  • Actual access to the standard at fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions must be ensured; especially if intellectual property rights are to be included in the standard, the participants must provide a written, irrevocable commitment to grant third parties licences at fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions ("FRAND commitment").
  • If intellectual property rights are essential for the implementation of a standard under development, the participants must provide good faith disclosure.

In the Commission's opinion, standard terms are not likely to give rise to restrictive effects on competition if

  • the unrestricted participation of competitors on the relevant market in the actual determination of the standard terms is ensured and
  • the established standard terms are non-binding and effectively accessible for anyone.

1.3 Research and development agreements

The amendments in the new block exemption regulation for categories of research and development agreements essentially permit – in connection with the new horizontal guidelines – a simpler and clearer handling of the rules governing a cooperation amongst competitors in this area which is permissible pursuant to antitrust law. Additionally, the scope of application of the regulation has been extended. Commissioned research now also falls under the regulation, i.e. cases where one party merely finances the R&D activities of another party. Moreover, the new legal situation allows greater possibilities for the joint exploitation of R&D results.

In all other respects, the system of block exemptions per regulation remains untouched. The new regulation deems agreements to be in conformity with antitrust law if

certain market share thresholds are not exceeded and
the agreements contain no "hardcore" restrictions (e.g. price fixing for the sale of contractual products).

2. What needs to be done?

  • You must critically appraise your current practices related to procuring of market information with a view to possible violations of antitrust law. The Commission already deems the acceptance and use of strategic data that has been unilaterally transmitted or published by a competitor to be unlawful, coordinated conduct between competitors.
  • Existing R&D. specialisation and production agreements must be examined by 31 December 2012 at the latest as to their compliance with the new block exemption regulations.
  • If you participate in standard terms or standardisation agreements, you should make sure that the procedure complies with the rules set down in the new horizontal guidelines.

Do you require further information on this topic? If so, please feel free to contact us at any time.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.