“Trade Mark Law Update: Grey Market Goods”

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Source: Waterfront Solicitors LLP via mondaq.com 31 August 2017

“In good news for brand owners, the UK Supreme Court has decided that the distribution of grey market goods without the consent of the brand owner is a criminal offence.

So called grey market goods, also referred to as parallel imports, are goods which have been manufactured by or with the consent of the brand owner but sold without the brand owner’s consent – in other words, they are authentic products sold by unlicensed resellers. For example, Gucci might manufacture particular styles of watch for sale only in France. If a third party buys these watches and sells them in the UK without Gucci’s consent, the watches will be “grey” goods. They are distinct from counterfeit goods, which are simply fakes.

Brand owners have long been able to enforce their trade mark rights in the civil courts with respect to counterfeit goods and grey market goods. It is also established law that dealing in counterfeit products is a criminal offence.

In the recent case of R v M & Ors [2017] UKSC 58, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether dealing in grey market goods is also a criminal offence.”

Source article here



One thought on ““Trade Mark Law Update: Grey Market Goods”

    Adrian said:
    September 11, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Terrible precedent in my opinion, since this gives control of secondary markets to the owner of trademarks, even though they create no value in those markets. A product should belong to those purchasing it, and should allow them to use or resell it as they see fit. And this case seems absurd, starting criminal proceedings against someone who has not breached any trademarks, but has merely purchased branded goods from a manufacturer. Of course, due diligence should be undertaken by retailers to determine whether a manufacturer is legitimate, but such processes can be very costly and quite difficult when dealing with, for example, Chinese entities. Of course, the law is clear here, that it is illegal to sell trademarked goods without the agreement of the trademark owner, but again it seems like an absurd situation, since the quoted section offers no relief for sales of second-hand goods, for which such a requirement would offer too much power to the trademark holder, since they could effectively block any such sales.


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