Parallel import, or grey market goods.
The concept of parallel importation is a constantly growing phenomenon in the current globalized world. Parallel importation refers to a situation where the owner of the trademark has not given its consent to import its goods to a certain area.
A closely correlated concept with parallel import is the principle of trademark exhaustion. The approach to parallel imports will greatly depend on how a country deals the concept of trademark exhaustion.
There are at least three concepts existing in the global practice:
b. Regional, and
EU has adopted the approach of regional trademark exhaustion, the Community-wide exhaustion. Parallel imports coming from outside the Community are not approved without the consent of the trademark proprietor, while the USA applies the basic approach of national trademark exhaustion. However, as the practice demonstrates, this is not the whole truth since certain exceptions apply.
Armenia, as a rule, adheres to the international principle of exhaustion of trademark rights with some exceptions. It should also be noted that Armenia is a member of the EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union) consequently, the regional concept regulations of the EAEU shall prevail over domestic regulations in relations with the member states of the Union․
The concepts of trademark exhaustion and parallel imports are rather debatable, and a unanimous approach to these concepts is not as obvious. The presumption that parallel import is beneficial for consumers for the reasons of offering cheaper prices and greater selection is a strong argument, although there are both supporting and opposing arguments whether the unauthorized parallel imports are truly beneficial for the market as a whole. Consumers would be more than happy to freely access parallel imports without any restrictions, and worldwide international trademark exhaustion would support this kind of approach. However, the rights of the consumers are not the only rights to be protected, and the rights of the trademark’s owner should be protected as well.
Brand owners may not totally avoid parallel import, but they are strongly encouraged to develop and implement a coherent strategy to redress the problems created by them. Aside from trademark law, they can also look into other areas of law to build up their brand protection plan.