Last week saw the European Commission adopting a revised regime in respect of technology transfer agreements. The new agreements will enable companies to better licence the use of patents, know-how or software held by another company for the production of goods and services. The new Technology Transfer Block Exemption Regulation (TTBER) and accompanying Technology Transfer Guidelines (Guidelines) will enter into force on 1 May 2014.

The TTBER and Guidelines will create a safe harbour for licensing agreements seeking to strengthen incentives for research, innovation and stimulate competition.

The main features of the new rules include clarity in respect of settlement agreements between actual and potential competitors, new tests for provisions that concern the purchase of raw material or equipment contained in licence agreements, a more prudent approach on clauses that could harm competition and innovation and guidance around the concept of patent pools.

The patent pool concept is a large area of focus in the Guidelines. They can give companies cheaper and easier access to intellectual property rights will fall within a safe harbour where certain conditions are met. Participation in the pool creation process is open to all interested technology rights owners with pooled technologies licenced into the pool on a non-exclusive basis.

While the original TTBER entered into force in 2004, and is due to expire on 30 April 2014, the new regime seeks to give further incentive to spread innovation by allowing companies to offer new products and services, conveniently through the creation of pro-competitive patent pools.