Parallel imports
Produced in partnership with Taylor Wessing LLP
Parallel imports

The following IP guidance note Produced in partnership with Taylor Wessing LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Parallel imports
  • Scope
  • Free movement of goods
  • Exceptions to free movement
  • No international exhaustion
  • Does exhaustion apply to the EU or EEA?
  • When can trade mark owners stop their goods from being imported into the EEA?
  • Obtaining evidence of parallel importing
  • Letter of claim against parallel imports
  • Goods clearly marked as non-EEA
  • more

Scope

This Practice Note explains trade mark law on parallel trade. Parallel imports, or ‘grey market’ goods, are genuine goods that are placed on the market by, or with the consent of, the rights holder but are imported for sale into a particular market without the right holder’s consent. They are not counterfeit or 'black market' goods. For information about counterfeit goods, see: Anti-counterfeiting—overview.

Much of the law in this area comes from the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), Directive 89/104/EEC (consolidated by Directive 2008/94/EC), Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 (which consolidates the amendments made to Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 by Regulation (EU) 2015/2424), and the case law of the Court of Justice. The law on parallel trading in the context of other intellectual property (IP) rights is the same or similar, but is not covered in this Practice Note. For information about parallel imports and exhaustion of rights in relation to patents, see Practice Note: Patent infringement—defences and permitted acts—Exhaustion of rights.

This Practice Note is written primarily from the perspective of a trade mark owner.

Free movement of goods

Free movement is fundamental to the operation of the EU as a single market. It should be borne in mind at all times when considering parallel trade issues.

The free movement principle is implemented into EU trade mark