WRITTEN QUESTION E-0362/00
Lehne (PPE-DE) to the Commission
(02 February 2000)
Subject: The Commission's attitude towards the problem of the
exhaustion of trade mark rights and the admissibility of parallel
The effect of Article 7 of the EU trade mark directive (89/104/EEC)(1) is that since
1995 at the latest the principle of 'international exhaustion' of trade
mark rights hitherto applied in many Member States has been replaced with
the principle of 'European exhaustion' in the trade mark law of the EU
Member States. Since that date, and in particular with regard to the
'Silhouette' and 'Sebago' rulings of the European Court of Justice, there
has been no room for parallel imports of favourable branded goods from
outside the EU. In its report of 1 December 1999 the Commission summarises
the discussion hitherto and looks into various options for changing the
law, although without taking sides on retaining or amending the present
principle of exhaustion.
1. In its assessment of the question of whether commercial parallel
imports from outside the EU should be possible in the future, what
importance does the Commission attach to the increasing supply of low-cost
branded goods from EU third countries direct to the final consumer via the
Internet? Does it agree that the increasing demand on the part of private
customers via the Internet causes considerable problems for retailers and
mail order businesses if the latter do not, obtain supplies of low-cost
parallel imports and hence are not able to offer low prices?
2. Has the Commission taken note of representations by the sector
affected that the legal position as it stands now results in permissible
intra-European parallel trade in branded goods being effectively
restricted and subject to uncertainties if stocks in hand include, unknown
to businesses, products from impermissible third country imports which
would result in legal action being taken by manufacturers of branded goods
against such businesses? Does the Commission intend to draw conclusions
from these representations in the near future and provide remedy?
3. In the light of the criticism expressed at the 'n/e/r/a report',
does the Commission intend to arrange a further questionnaire or study to
clarify matters before any decision is taken?
4. Does the Commission intend to make the issue of international rules
on exhaustion of trade mark rights a topic for the forthcoming WTO
negotiations? If not, why not?
||"0"> OJ L 40, 11.2.1989, p. 1|
||Original language of question: DE|
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