licensing arrangements

Companies may face a challenging regulatory environment following the EU-wide implementation of the Copyright Directive by 7 June 2021.

By Deborah J. Kirk and Rachael Astin

On 21 January 2020, the UK government confirmed that the UK will not be required to implement the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market 2019/790 (Copyright Directive) and that it has no plans to do so.

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020 (Exit Date), and the implementation period will end on 31 December 2020. As the deadline for transposing the Copyright Directive into Member States’ national laws is 7 June 2021, the UK will not be required to implement the Copyright Directive, and the UK government has confirmed that it has no plans to do so. Furthermore, the UK government confirmed that any future changes to the UK copyright framework will be considered as part of the usual domestic policy process.

The CAT’s specific disclosure ruling addresses the use of licensing to support anticompetitive behaviour.

By John D. Colahan and Calum M. Warren

On 2 March 2018, the Chairman of the UK Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) granted an application for further specific disclosure in Peugeot S.A. and others v NSK Ltd and others. The disclosure relates to certain licensing arrangements claimed as central to the claimants’ action for damages arising out of anticompetitive practices, for which the European Commission (Commission) fined the defendants in March 2014. The ruling highlights the potential misuse of licensing arrangements to support anticompetitive behaviour, and is a timely reminder of the need for caution when dealing with counterparties in licensing arrangements.

In February 2016, the claimants — Peugeot S.A. and 18 other companies within the Peugeot Citroën group — brought an action for damages before the CAT. The claim was a so-called “follow-on” action based on a Commission decision of 14 March 2014. The defendants — competing suppliers of components to automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) known as automotive bearings — were found to have coordinated pricing strategy in relation to automotive OEMs in the EEA, and received fines totalling approximately €953 million. In particular, the defendants were found to have coordinated their responses to customers’ (including the claimants’) requests for quotations (RFQ), including which undertakings would submit a quote to a given RFQ.