On May 5, 2015 Lyle Vander Schaaf's article, "Battling Grey Market Imports? The ITC is Here to Help," was published in Corporate Counsel.

No Grey Area Here: ITC Can Stop Parallel Imports

In an article recently published in Corporate Counsel and slated to soon appear in The Intellectual Property Strategist, Brinks'Lyle Vander Schaaf discusses the advantages of bringing Section 337 complaints before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) as a means to stop trademarked goods from being imported by unauthorized agents.

Customers in the U.S. often pay more for branded goods than buyers of the same goods in less well-developed economies. This pricing imbalance creates an incentive for so-called parallel imports—genuine and non-counterfeit trademarked products imported and sold in the U.S. outside authorized distribution channels at below-market prices. 

The grey market creates significant problems for brand owners, including lost profits, erosion of brand value, and product liability. Brand owners with U.S. trademarks have legal recourse, but prosecuting a claim in federal district court can take time. The ITC is a lesser-known venue for seeking remedy from grey market imports, says Vander Schaaf, but the Commission can act more quickly to provide injunctive relief—stopping parallel imports at the U.S. border. Vander Schaaf’s article also describes how brand owners Kubota Corp., Philip Morris USA, Red Bull, and Caterpillar, Inc. brought successful complaints to the ITC.

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