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Parliamentary questions

by Klaus-Heiner 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 import

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 in the light of 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 present discussion and looks into various options for changing the law, although without taking sides on retaining or amending the present principle of exhaustion.

1. What is the Commission's attitude towards the question of 'international exhaustion' and towards amending Article 7 of the trade mark directive, and does it intend to propose an amendment to the Council and Parliament?

2. Does the Commission share the view of persons advocating a change in the law that reintroducing parallel imports could cut consumer prices for certain branded goods by 30-50% and, in the light of the results of the 'n/e/r/a report', does it accept the calculation that savings in the order of EUR 35 to 40 billion would be possible for consumers EU-wide?

3. What is the Commission's attitude towards the argument currently being put forward by the branded industry that future parallel imports would lead to an increased incidence of product piracy? Does the Commission have any information, beyond that presented in its report of 1 December 1999, to suggest that the incidence of product piracy has diminished or increased since the ban on parallel imports in 1995?

4. What is the Commission's view of the argument put forwarded by the branded goods industry that a future introduction of parallel imports would result in a shift of jobs from the EU to third countries? Does the Commission not think that it is much more conceivable that the law as it stands at present is an inducement to shift production facilities abroad, with the loss of jobs in the EU?

(1) "0"> OJ L 40, 11.2.1989, p. 1

Original language of question: DE
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