Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Irene Calboli and Edward Lee
Chapter 10: The exhaustion doctrine in Singapore: different strokes for different IP folks
The arguments for and against the doctrine of international exhaustion of intellectual property rights have been canvassed by many.1 The reason probably most often cited in favor of international exhaustion is the benefit to the consumers in the country of importation because they can get access to genuine products at lower prices. Indeed, some studies have shown that this benefit is not merely a theoretical one. According to a study by Chen and Png on an international panel of changes in copyright law, legalisation of parallel imports was associated with a retail price reduction of 7.2–7.9 percent in the music CD market.2 Another study by Ganslandt and Maskus found that drug prices in Sweden that were subject to competition from parallel imports fell relative to other drugs.3 As far as Singapore is concerned, this benefit to consumers has emerged as the overriding consideration in most debates on whether, and to what extent, intellectual property rights should be exhausted. Thus, in the late 1980s when Singapore was fashioning its own copyright law, it decided that parallel imports would be permitted under the new copyright law (Copyright Act 19874) because:5
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