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Parliamentary questions

by Werner Langen (PPE) to the Commission

(25 November 1998)

Subject: Principle of exhaustion/EU trade mark directive

In its answer to Question P-0737/98(1) the Commission states:

1. "Current international economic relations being what they are, Community exhaustion is likely to have certain advantages for consumers, depending on the product. In particular, it can guarantee the sustained quality of the products moving around the internal market and ensure continuity of after-sales service."
2. " ... that at present, none of the Community's main trading partners or its Member States apply the principle of the international exhaustion of industrial property rights."
3. Referring to the Silhouette case and the Advocate-General's conclusions, that "the relevant provision of the Directive constitutes a total harmonisation measure."

Can the Commission explain:

1. How far sustained quality depends on the introduction of the Europe-wide exhaustion of trade mark rights?
2. Are branded products imported from non-European economic areas not, as a rule, identical products?
3. Are European sales outlets not in any case frequently supplied by non-European production plants owned by the holder of the trade mark?
4. Does the Commission stand by its contention that maintaining continuity of after-sales service entirely depends on Europe-wide exhaustion, given that there are, according to newspaper reports, firms which urge their dealers to increase the prices of spare parts and maintenance for owners of grey market products?
5. Does the Commission not consider Japan, the USA, Switzerland, and South Korea to be main trading partners of the Community and its Member States, given that these countries - as judgments of the highest courts prove - accept and endorse the principle of international exhaustion, with exceptions in South Korea's case?
6. Would harmonisation not have occurred even if international exhaustion had been generally introduced, without the price-boosting disadvantages occurring for the consumer?

(1) OJ C 402, 22.12.1998, p. 25.

OJ C 207, 21/07/1999 (p. 116).

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