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Competition Law Reading Room

The Empire Will Strike Back: The overlooked dimension to the parallel import debate

Arlen Duke
(2014) 37 Melbourne University Law Review 585



Parallel importing, the act of importing non-counterfeit products from other countries in which the product is sold more cheaply, has the potential to significantly benefit Australian consumers. First, the availability of the parallel imported product is likely to intensify price competition in the local market. Secondly, it may result in greater product choice as many parallel imported products would not otherwise nd their way to the local marketplace. Given these benefts, it is not surprising that there have been many calls to abolish parallel import restriction provisions in Australia’s various intellectual property statutes. This article does not revisit the debates on the merits or otherwise of parallel import restrictions. Instead it takes the repeal of the parallel import restrictions as a given and considers strategies manufacturers are likely to adopt in response. A conclusion is reached that many of the manufacturer responses which have the potential to undermine the benets that the relaxation of parallel import laws would otherwise bring about would not amount to a breach of competition law. Given this finding, the article concludes by considering alternate methods of supporting parallel import activity.



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