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Parliamentary questions

by Werner Langen (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(11 February 2000)

Subject: Admissibility of parallel imports

Under Article 7 of the EU trade mark directive (89/104/EEC)(1) the "European exhaustion" principle has applied in the EU Member States' trade mark legislation since 1995 rather than the principle of "international exhaustion" previously applied in many Member States. There has been no room for parallel imports of branded goods from outside the EU since that time. In its report of 1 December 1999 the Commission does not commit itself on whether it is in favour of retaining or changing the current exhaustion principle.

This being the case:

1. What is the Commission's position on the question of "international exhaustion" and an amendment to Article 7 of the trade mark directive, and does it intend to propose a change in the law to the Council and Parliament?

2. Does the Commission agree with the argument advanced by the advocates of a change in the law that the reintroduction of parallel imports might lead to a significant reduction in the consumer prices of certain branded products of between 30 and 50%, thus making annual savings of up to EUR 35 to 40bn possible for consumers throughout the EU?

3. In addition to the statements in its report of 1 December 1999, does the Commission have any information to indicate that the occurrence of product piracy has declined appreciably throughout the EU since parallel imports were prohibited in 1995, or does it have information to indicate that cases of product piracy have in fact increased since that time?

4. How does the Commission view the claims by the branded goods industry that, if parallel imports were permitted in the future, jobs would be relocated from the EU to third countries?

5. Does the Commission agree that growing demand from private customers through the internet will give rise to major difficulties for the retail and mail order trade in branded products unless these undertakings are themselves able to obtain supplies of cheap parallel imports and to offer goods at correspondingly low prices?

6. Does the Commission intend to make "international exhaustion rules" in trade mark legislation the subject of forthcoming rounds of negotiations at WTO level? If not, why not?

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

Original language of question: DE
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