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No challenge-klausuler - dess rättsliga status och framtida utmaningar i samband med 2014-års gruppundantag för tekniköverföring

Nilsson Bromander, Ulrika LU (2014) JURM02 20142
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Licensiering av teknik anses utgöra ett viktigt verktyg för att kunna sprida teknisk utveckling och främja innovation. Genom licensavtalet ges licenstagaren tillgång till viktig teknik i utbyte mot en licensavgift. På så sätt kan uppfinningen exploateras av båda parterna. Således är licensiering av teknik normalt sett positivt för konkurrensen. Det finns dock fall då licensavtalet innehåller restriktiva klausuler som kan komma att aktualisera art 101.1 FEUF.

En av dessa klausuler är icke-angreppsklausulen. Klausulen utgör ett förbud för licenstagaren att bestrida giltigheten av licensgivarens immaterialrätt och kan förekomma i både vanliga licensavtal och förlikningsavtal.

Icke-angreppsklausuler i vanliga licensavtal har länge... (More)
Licensiering av teknik anses utgöra ett viktigt verktyg för att kunna sprida teknisk utveckling och främja innovation. Genom licensavtalet ges licenstagaren tillgång till viktig teknik i utbyte mot en licensavgift. På så sätt kan uppfinningen exploateras av båda parterna. Således är licensiering av teknik normalt sett positivt för konkurrensen. Det finns dock fall då licensavtalet innehåller restriktiva klausuler som kan komma att aktualisera art 101.1 FEUF.

En av dessa klausuler är icke-angreppsklausulen. Klausulen utgör ett förbud för licenstagaren att bestrida giltigheten av licensgivarens immaterialrätt och kan förekomma i både vanliga licensavtal och förlikningsavtal.

Icke-angreppsklausuler i vanliga licensavtal har länge betraktats med skepsis av kommissionen, men är trots det inte förbjuden per se. I uppsatsen diskuteras dess möjliga användningsområde för att konstatera att det finns ett utrymme att använda dem, om än att det är mycket smalt. Situationen kompliceras ytterligare av det faktum att detta område till viss del utgörs av tillfällen då det får anses mindre troligt att licenstagaren kommer ifrågasätta immaterialrätten. I dessa situationer måste det ifrågasättas om licensgivaren, trots att klausulen anses giltig, anser det lönsamt att inkludera den i avtalet.

Uppsatsen utreder även användningsområdet för de så kallade no-challenge termination-klausulerna. Det vill säga en klausul som möjliggör för licensgivaren att säga upp avtalet då licenstagaren bestrider licensgivarens immaterialrättighet. Dess rättsliga status är år 2014 synnerligen aktuell då ett nytt gruppundantag för teknologiöverföring har utfärdats. Gruppundantaget har medfört vissa förändringar för synen på dels dessa klausuler, dels på icke-angreppsklausulerna i förlikningsavtal.

Avseende den sistnämnda klausulen har tidigare det gruppundantagets huvudregel, att dessa klausuler är tillåtna att använda, givits två undantag. Detta kommer givetvis förändra dess tillämpning, i synnerhet medför det ett nytt osäkerhetsmoment i jämförelse med tidigare reglering. De två undantagets tillämpningsområde ska dock inte tolkas som alltför omfattande. Icke-angreppsklausulerna i förlikningsavtal torde därför fortsatt kunna användas i relativt hög utsträckning.

Däremot torde användningsområdet för no-challenge termination-klausuler blivit snävare. Klausulen kan fortfarande inkluderas i exklusiva licensavtal och licensavtal avseende know-how, men i fallet om icke-exklusiva licensavtal är klausulen som huvudregel inte giltig. Denna huvudregel aktualiseras dock främst i tre fall, varpå möjligheterna att inkludera klausulen även i icke-exklusiva avtal torde vara förhållandevis goda. (Less)
Abstract
Technology licensing is considered to be an important tool for the dissemination of technology development and the promotion of innovation. Through the licensing agreement the licensee is given access to important technology in exchange of a license fee, thereby making it possible for both parties to exploit the invention. Hence technology licensing is in most cases considered to be procompetitive. However, there are cases when licensing agreements contain restrictive clauses that may fall within the scope of article 101.1 FEUF.

One of these clauses is the no-challenge clause. The clause constitutes a restriction where the licensee is forbidden to challenge the validity of the licensor’s intellectual property right and can be used in... (More)
Technology licensing is considered to be an important tool for the dissemination of technology development and the promotion of innovation. Through the licensing agreement the licensee is given access to important technology in exchange of a license fee, thereby making it possible for both parties to exploit the invention. Hence technology licensing is in most cases considered to be procompetitive. However, there are cases when licensing agreements contain restrictive clauses that may fall within the scope of article 101.1 FEUF.

One of these clauses is the no-challenge clause. The clause constitutes a restriction where the licensee is forbidden to challenge the validity of the licensor’s intellectual property right and can be used in both normal licensing agreements and settlement agreements.

For many years, the commission has viewed the clause with scepticism, but in spite of this fact, the clause is not forbidden per se. The essay discusses its possible use to conclude that there is an area in which the clause can be used, albeit very narrow. The situation is further complicated by the fact that this area is partly consists of occasions when it may be considered less likely that the licensee will question the validity of the intellectual property. In these situations, it must be questioned whether the licensor, even though the clause is valid, finds it profitable enough to include it in the contract.

The essay also examines the possible use of the so-called no-challenge termination clause, i.e. a clause that provides a possibility for the licensor to terminate the contract in the event of the licensee challenging his intellectual property right. Their legal status is particularly relevant in 2014, when a new block exemption has been issued. This has led to some changes in the perception of these clauses, and of the no-challenge clauses in settlement agreements.

Regarding the latter clause, the previous block exemption’s main rule, that these clauses are admissible, has been given two exemptions. This will naturally alter their scope; in particular this brings a new element of uncertainty in comparison to the previous regulation. However, the two exemptions should not be interpreted too excessively. The possibility to use a no-challenge clause in a settlement agreement should therefore continue to remain relatively good.

In contrast, the scope in which the use of a no-challenge termination-clause is permitted has become narrower. The clause can still be included in exclusive licensing agreements and licensing agreements regarding know-how. However, in the case of non-exclusive licensing agreements, the new main rule is that the clause is not permitted. Even so, this main rule primarily regards three specific situations, whereupon the possibilities to include the clause in non-exclusive agreements still must be considered relatively good. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Nilsson Bromander, Ulrika LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
No challenge clauses - their legal status and future challenges in regards to the block exemption for technology transfer agreements of 2014
course
JURM02 20142
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Konkurrensrätt EU-rätt Immaterialrätt
language
Swedish
id
4925282
date added to LUP
2015-02-18 11:51:57
date last changed
2015-02-18 11:51:57
@misc{4925282,
  abstract     = {Technology licensing is considered to be an important tool for the dissemination of technology development and the promotion of innovation. Through the licensing agreement the licensee is given access to important technology in exchange of a license fee, thereby making it possible for both parties to exploit the invention. Hence technology licensing is in most cases considered to be procompetitive. However, there are cases when licensing agreements contain restrictive clauses that may fall within the scope of article 101.1 FEUF.

One of these clauses is the no-challenge clause. The clause constitutes a restriction where the licensee is forbidden to challenge the validity of the licensor’s intellectual property right and can be used in both normal licensing agreements and settlement agreements.

For many years, the commission has viewed the clause with scepticism, but in spite of this fact, the clause is not forbidden per se. The essay discusses its possible use to conclude that there is an area in which the clause can be used, albeit very narrow. The situation is further complicated by the fact that this area is partly consists of occasions when it may be considered less likely that the licensee will question the validity of the intellectual property. In these situations, it must be questioned whether the licensor, even though the clause is valid, finds it profitable enough to include it in the contract.

The essay also examines the possible use of the so-called no-challenge termination clause, i.e. a clause that provides a possibility for the licensor to terminate the contract in the event of the licensee challenging his intellectual property right. Their legal status is particularly relevant in 2014, when a new block exemption has been issued. This has led to some changes in the perception of these clauses, and of the no-challenge clauses in settlement agreements.

Regarding the latter clause, the previous block exemption’s main rule, that these clauses are admissible, has been given two exemptions. This will naturally alter their scope; in particular this brings a new element of uncertainty in comparison to the previous regulation. However, the two exemptions should not be interpreted too excessively. The possibility to use a no-challenge clause in a settlement agreement should therefore continue to remain relatively good. 

In contrast, the scope in which the use of a no-challenge termination-clause is permitted has become narrower. The clause can still be included in exclusive licensing agreements and licensing agreements regarding know-how. However, in the case of non-exclusive licensing agreements, the new main rule is that the clause is not permitted. Even so, this main rule primarily regards three specific situations, whereupon the possibilities to include the clause in non-exclusive agreements still must be considered relatively good.},
  author       = {Nilsson Bromander, Ulrika},
  keyword      = {Konkurrensrätt EU-rätt Immaterialrätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {No challenge-klausuler - dess rättsliga status och framtida utmaningar i samband med 2014-års gruppundantag för tekniköverföring},
  year         = {2014},
}