Fighting Parallel imports in Asia

During a webinar organized by Hogan Lovells, Charmaine Kwong shared her views on the issues and challenges faced by brand owners in tackling parallel imports in Hong Kong, wrote Managing Intellectual Property.

Charmaine explained that there have been successful cases in finding illegality in parallel import goods, where the condition of the goods has been changed or impaired and the use of the registered trademarks in relation to the goods is detrimental to the distinctive character or reputation of the trade mark. However, there can also be challenges. For example, one point of contention is the differentiation between packaging and what is considered as part of the goods.

Charmaine also outlined that some copyright cases involve parallel importers downloading photos of original goods, and using them to market parallel import goods. There are also cases where parallel import goods sellers pass off defective or sample goods as original goods. Some cases involve false trade descriptions.

Charmaine suggested that common defences deployed by parallel importers can include the defacing of trademarks and scratching off of serial numbers. To counter these, brand owners may consider taking actions such as examining the quality of the goods being sold, ensuring samples are marked clearly, and monitoring whether parallel imports follow labelling requirements.

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