Parallel imports
Produced in partnership with Taylor Wessing LLP

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

  • Parallel imports
  • Scope
  • Brexit
  • Brexit and parallel imports
  • Brexit—practical impact
  • Products first sold in the UK and exported to the EEA
  • Products first sold in the EEA and exported to the UK
  • Free movement of goods
  • Exceptions to free movement
  • Does exhaustion apply to the EU or EEA?
  • More...

Parallel imports

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 rights 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 originated from the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), Directive (EU) 2015/2436 (which governs national trade mark registrations in Member States, and is implemented in the UK via the Trade Marks Act 1994 (TMA 1994)), and Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 (the EU Trade Mark Regulation), which governs EU trade mark (EUTM) registrations.

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 Practice Note: Exceptions and defences to patent infringement—Exhaustion of rights.

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

Brexit

At the end of the implementation period (11.00 pm on 31 December 2020 (IP completion day)), the EU Trade Mark Regulation was repealed in the UK and therefore, EUTMs are no longer protected here.

Holders of EUTMs which were registered immediately

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