EU: Vehicle-generated data as an ‘essential facility’ and Patent Wars 2.0 – Connected cars in the sights of antitrust law?
Vehicle-generated data is extremely valuable and an important input factor for a wide variety of applications in downstream markets. But who is allowed to access the data, and on what conditions? It will be interesting to see whether the regulatory authorities (in particular the European Commission) will trust stakeholders to find an appropriate balance of interests within the scope and limits of the current legal framework (in particular antitrust law) or whether they will (prematurely?) intervene in the still-young market by introducing sector-specific regulations on access conditions. The European Commission has not yet decided on this, but does not appear to be reluctant to regulate: ‘The Commission will continue monitoring the situation on access to in-vehicle data and resources and will consider further options for an enabling framework for vehicle data sharing to enable fair competition in the provision of services in the digital single market, while ensuring compliance with the legislation on the protection of personal data.’
Another exciting aspect of the further development of connected cars will be whether the need to ensure interoperability through the use of standards and standard essential patents (‘SEPs’) will lead to similar market disruptions to those brought about by mobile phones. It also remains to be seen whether the evolution of case law on SEPs (following the Huawei/ZTE judgment by the ECJ) and the Commission’s communication on SEPs can help avoid patent infringement proceedings.
Any questions? Please contact: Stefan Bauer
Practice Group: Antitrust & Competition, Automotive