'CONNECTOR - CompetitiOn law coNnects challeNges in digital markEts, intelleCtual properTy and air transpORt' is a 10-month project financially supported by the European Commission, DG Competition, via the Training of National Judges in EU Competition Law Programme, with the aim to provide national judges with the necessary knowledge and skills to apply and enforce competition rules and principles in the context of specific markets, highly driven by innovation, technological advancement and the flow of data.
The project is a natural extension of LIBReFoundation’s previous efforts in organizing trainings for national judges on EU Competition Law topics. CONNECTOR benefits from the accumulated expertise and knowledge of LIBRe Foundation’s team and complements the activities carried out in previous projects and initiatives by extending further the interactive collaboration tools built within the framework of these projects, e.g. the online platform built within the CONSTANT project (11/2016 – 08/2017).
CONNECTOR’s strive is to provide judges with knowledge about the economic and technological characteristics of three separate markets – the market of online platforms, the digital content market and the airline industry. CONNECTOR groups these three seemingly disparate sectors in accordance with their commonalities, namely their underscored international nature, the high influence of innovation and rapid technological developments and the use of big data.
Particular account will be taken of several key factors for the research and assessment of the market position and behavior of undertakings in these sectors, including the business model underlying online platforms, zero-priced services and personal data valorization, the role of algorithms in dynamic pricing practices, the importance of intellectual property when assessing market competition, etc.
The main aim of the project is to extend the competition law enforcement expertise of judges in new areas where EU competition rules closely interacts with other domains of law such as consumer protection law, intellectual property law, data protection law, and air law. Thus, CONNECTOR will strengthen the capacity of the Bulgarian judiciary in the enforcement of EC competition rules regarding antitrust violations, abuses of dominant positions and the control of concentrations between undertakings in the new and advanced terms of the digital society.
In pursuit of this objective, CONNECTOR will conduct three educational events, relying on novel educational methods and an interactive educational process, encouraging the active participation of the audience. The project also envisages to create a healthy environment for establishment of professional relations between judges, which will enable them to share knowledge, experience, interpretative strategies and opinions on matters related to EU Competition Law.
The project is implemented within the 10/2017 - 08/2018 period.
The project provides for three training events, each with three-day duration and designed for 20 participants – national judges; as well as the development of training proceedings and upgrade of the present platform.
The training will take a step further the idea of legitimate business practices in the domain of exclusive ownership and open innovation in intellectual property as opposed to traditional processes of encapsulating innovation within a company’s internal structure. This training will consider the role of IP ownership as a determinant factor in legal competitive assessments. The judges will learn more about the relationship between innovation and competition in dynamic markets, the economic and legal constraints arising from IP ownership, the role of licence agreements, compulsory licencing and technology transfer block exemptions. The training will refer to the link between intellectual property and online markets by presenting the legal challenges of online distribution of digital content and cross-border management of intellectual property and will consider the advantages and disadvantages of open innovation for competition.
The training will introduce the judges to the specifics of the application of EU competition rules to digital markets. The participants will follow a series of lectures and case-study sessions on online business models and platforms, specific challenges of enforcing the competition rules in the digital sector, digital monopolies as a threat to competition and innovation, restrictive contractual clauses for distribution of consumer goods and digital content, and the distinction between anti-competitive conduct and legitimate business practices.
The training will provide the link with the third main ‘non-economic’ rationale of the evolving competition policy, namely data. The judges will learn about the importance of data as an input for innovation and disruptive entry. They will discuss the various data-related competition concerns in the data-driven economy and the essential facilities doctrine and its applicability to data. The training will focus on the complex relationships revealed by the interplay between data protection, consumer protection law and competition law. In addition, it will focus on the importance of the digital price comparison tools for transparency in the digital sector. Finally, the training will pay attention to the airline industry as a case study typical of its international nature, strict rules and paramount competition issues. Through these lens, this part will consider airport charges, market power and abuse of dominance, vertical relations between airports and airlines, airline competition and the impact of dynamic pricing algorithms.
After the completion of the project trainings, each of the lectures presented during the trainings will be included in a specially designed report on training events proceedings which aims to help the judges to interpret and apply the rules of EU state aid and antitrust damages actions in a coherent and consistent manner and in line with the economic rationale of the legal rules. The reports will contain references to all cases and proceedings discussed throughout the training events.
LIBRe Foundation is a Bulgarian not-for-profit non-governmental organisation established in 2015 with the mission to contribute to the national digital policies and to facilitate the technology penetration in the professional and personal life.
The organisation works in the fields of digital society and digital rights, information management, intellectual property rights in an online environment, privacy and security, e-government, and e-justice. Our activities include research on information technologies, organisational behaviour and law, as well as development of interactive solutions and communication strategies, organisation of awareness campaigns on key issues in our competence areas, publishing, and training.