Horizontal agreements are restrictive agreements between competitors operating at the same level of the production and distribution chain. Horizontal agreements which have as their aim or likely to prevent, distort or restrict competition, directly or indirectly, constitute infringements. Article 4 of the Law on the Protection of Competition No. 4054 (the „Competition Law“) directly prohibits this. As a general rule, standardisation agreements should not cover more than is necessary to achieve their objectives, whether it is technical interoperability and compatibility or a certain level of quality. In cases where only a technological solution would benefit consumers or the industry as a whole, that standard should be established on a non-discriminatory basis. Technology-neutral standards can lead to greater efficiency gains. The inclusion of alternative IPRs (129) as essential elements of a standard, while requiring users of the standard to pay for more intellectual property rights than technically necessary, would go beyond what is necessary to achieve efficiency gains. Similarly, the inclusion of intellectual property rights as essential elements of a standard and the limitation of the use of that technology to that specific standard (i.e.
exclusive use) could limit competition between technologies and would not be necessary to achieve the identified efficiency gains. If a horizontal cooperation agreement does not reduce competition, it should be examined whether it has an impact on competition. Both actual and potential effects should be taken into account. In other words, the agreement must at least have anti-competitive effects. The outsourcing of previously linked R&D is a specific form of R&D cooperation. In such a scenario, R&D is often conducted by specialized companies, research institutes or academic institutions that are not involved in exploiting the results. As a general rule, such agreements are linked to a transfer of know-how and/or an exclusive supply clause on possible results which, due to the complementary nature of the cooperating parties, do not have a restrictive effect on competition within the meaning of Article 101(1) in such a scenario. Vertical agreements operate upstream/downstream, while horizontal agreements operate at the same level. Vertical agreements are agreements concluded between two or more parties which, for the purposes of this Agreement, operate at different levels of the production, supply and distribution chain. For example, between a manufacturer and a supplier or between a supplier and a retailer.
In some cases, public authorities encourage companies to conclude horizontal cooperation agreements in order to achieve a public policy objective through self-regulation. . . .