FOSTA guidelines on compliance with antitrust rules in the promotion of research projects
Below you will find antitrust guidelines that are used in the non-profit activities of Forschungsvereinigung Stahlanwendung e.V. (the "FOSTA e.V."). In addition to the guidelines of FOSTA e.V., supplementary general antitrust guidelines of the joint organisations of the steel industry in Germany, dated January 2013, are to be considered.
The FOSTA e.V. has the statutory purpose of promoting the community in the field of research and development, in particular the application technology of iron and steel. This purpose is achieved by awarding, in particular, public contributions to carry out research projects to other non-profit research institutions, as well as informing the public about the research results achieved.
The FOSTA e.V. carries out basic research in the application-related field. Here the FOSTA e. V. works project-related with companies and research institutes according to the rules of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy within the framework of the Program for Industrial Community Research. This collaborative research is distinguished by its pre-competition and predominant market distance.
The actual research is usually not done by the FOSTA e.V. itself, but by nonprofit university institutes and other non-profit research institutions. The FOSTA e.V. already actively coordinates the research in the individual projects in the pre-selection of the projects in the panel of experts (Board of Trustees) and then in the monitoring of the projects in the so-called project-accompanying committees. Both during the project and after completion of the project, publication of the research results is made.
Since in the pre-competitive activities of FOSTA e.V. and in particular in the Board of Trustees and the project-accompanying committees, current and potential competitors can be involved, the FOSTA e.V. has given these antitrust guidelines.
The aim of the antitrust guidelines is to prevent behaviour that could potentially lead to a market closure to innovative technologies and companies or to a reduction of innovation competition.
As part of the activities of FOSTA e.V. only projects that are precompetitive and comply with the rules of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy for the Promotion of Industrial Community Research will be promoted. These prohibit amongst other things, individual research projects that can lead to one sided competitive advantages of individual companies.
Furthermore, following rules are to be observed in the activity of FOSTA eV.:
- At all meetings of the Board of Trustees and the project-accompanying committees of FOSTA e. V. (and any other meetings involving companies), an employee of FOSTA e. V. or, in individual cases, an equally trained replacement who, together with all participating companies and persons, must ensure compliance with antitrust rules, together with all participating companies and persons.
- During the meetings of the Board of Trustees and the project-accompanying committees (as well as any other meetings involving companies), discussions should only be conducted on specific research projects or the general work of FOSTA e. V.
In particular, there must be no exchange or vote between the participating companies on:
- A possible individual and concrete use of the results of the individual research projects, e.g. the transition to the status of a prototype or prototype processes.
- Usually confidential information about the activities of the participating companies, such as supply prices, quantities and sources of materials; contrary to publicly known information.
- The cost of the research projects of they would have been carried out by the company themselves.
- Individual technical company knowhow which isn’t generally known (secret) but significant, which is relevant for further development or usage of the presented research results.
- Possible or actually planned own research and development of the respective companies, which builds on the presented results, as well as its own comparable research.
- A limitation of the own research and development of a company in an area outside of the concrete research project as well as the restriction of the own research and development of a company in the area of the concrete research project after its conclusion.
In the case of research projects, care must be taken to ensure that they always comply with the rules of the IGF on pre-competition and, in particular, that there is no de facto assessment of suppliers or manufacturers. These needs can be met, for example by sufficient confidentiality of the research results.
Concerning the activities of FOSTA e. V., we must of course also mention that there should be no exchange or collusion on antitrust issues, such as prices, quantities, costs, suppliers or customers.
Mr. Salomon, phone: +49 211 6707 853
1 Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie, Richtlinie über die Förderung der Industriellen Gemeinschaftsforschung, vom 10. August 2017, Ziff. 4 Abs. 2.
Bei der Erstellung der Leitlinien war die Hogan Lovells International LLP, Düsseldorf, für den FOSTA e. V. tätig.