Parallel import refers to the import of branded goods into a market without the consent of the brand owner. These are not counterfeit products, but simply goods intended for sale elsewhere. This practice is also referred to as the sale of “grey market goods.” Many brand owners wrongly believe it is impossible to have listings removed from parallel importers.
Parallel import: unethical but not illegal
Parallel import is a consequence of a principle known as the Exhaustion of Intellectual Property Rights. This states that once a product has been sold into a market, the owner of the relevant intellectual property rights must allow the re-sale of that product.
This perfectly legal loophole allows less scrupulous re-sellers to exploit price differentials by selling branded goods at a discount in some markets – often at the expense of the authorised distributor.
China has a thriving grey market. Limitations on foreign imports create strong demand for certain products. This demand is given an additional boost by the lack of quality assured domestic products. According to research, some 60% of Chinese consumers say they are willing to pay more for products manufactured overseas.
How to fight parallel import
Many brand owners wrongly believe it is impossible to have listings from parallel importers removed from Ebay and Amazon. It isn’t. You simply have to follow a complex procedure and it will be done. Another effective approach is to open a dialogue across the sales and distribution chain. We have found that much can be achieved just by talking to distributors, resellers and parallel importers.