Scope of a parallel importer’s permissible use of a trademark in marketing activities in Korea
In Korea, the parallel import market is rapidly growing due to parallel importers’ marketing activities and distribution diversification efforts, and changes in consumer behaviors, as well as the Korean government’s decision to ease regulations on parallel imports to vitalise parallel imports. The basic issues in the present case are to what extent a parallel importer should be allowed to carry out advertising and promotional activities using the trademark of imported goods, and what the limiting principles to such activities are. The Seoul District Court accepted the plaintiff’s argument and granted injunction on use of all materials bearing the Burberry trademark. The Seoul High Court held that parallel import and sale of genuine goods, per se, is not considered trademark infringement. The court further held that a parallel importer’s use of trademark should be permitted to the extent necessary to conduct business, if it is inextricably linked to the sale of genuine goods.