Parallel imports


According to Art. L 713-4 (1) of the Intellectual Property Law, the right conferred by a mark shall not entitle an owner to prohibit its use in relation to goods which have been put on the market in the European Economic Community under that mark by the proprietor or with his consent.

In other words, import of products which have been put in the market outside the EEC is considered as infringement. That is what the American firm Levi Strauss & Co. uses to stop parallel imports made by its European wholesale and retail distributors, which were importing American jeans at low cost. The first step was the one of summons. Most of the big distributors have accepted to clear their stock, for a settlement out of court. But will Levy Strauss & Co. effectively sue its own distributors which sell its own marked jeans ? Some agreements could be signed to go on with these parallel imports, in a contractual way. To be continued ....