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

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this Practice Note. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—IP rights.

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 (EU) 2015/2436 (which is implemented in respect of UK trade mark registrations by the Trade Marks Act 1994 (TMA 1994) and in respect of EU trade mark (EUTM) registrations by Regulation (EU) 2017/1001), and the case law of the Court of Justice.

The law on parallel trading in the context of other 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