Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Intellectual Property Exhaustion and Parallel Imports

Research Handbook on Intellectual Property Exhaustion and Parallel Imports

Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series

Edited by Irene Calboli and Edward Lee

From the Americas to the European Union, Asia-Pacific and Africa, countries around the world are facing increased pressure to clarify the application of intellectual property exhaustion. This wide-ranging Research Handbook explores the questions that pose themselves as a result. Should exhaustion apply at the national, regional, or international level? Should parallel imports be considered lawful imports? Should copyright, patent, and trademark laws follow the same regime? Should countries attempt to harmonize their approaches? To what extent should living matters and self-replicating technologies be subject to the principle of exhaustion? To what extent have the rise of digital goods and the “Internet of things” redefined the concept of exhaustion in cyberspace? The Handbook offers insights to the challenges surrounding these questions and highlights how one answer does not fit all.

Chapter 21: New developments in trademark exhaustion in Korea

Byungil Kim

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law, international economic law, trade law


The “exhaustion of rights” doctrine1 is one of the most fundamental limitations to intellectual property rights.2 Under the theory of the exhaustion of rights, when an intellectual property right owner sells an article embodying those rights, they are exhausted with respect to that article. Thus, a purchaser can resell the article without being liable for infringement. Likewise, the owner of the intellectual property right cannot control the resale of a legally purchased good. Unless otherwise specified by law, subsequent acts of resale, rental, lending, or other forms of commercial use by third parties can no longer be controlled or opposed by the owner of the intellectual property or its licensee(s). There is a fairly broad consensus that this exhaustion principle applies at least within the context of the domestic market in most jurisdictions. The exhaustion of rights doctrine takes on its greatest significance when goods embodying intellectual property rights are traded internationally. When rights are held for the same intellectual property right in multiple countries, the question that arises is whether, when, and which of, these rights are exhausted by sale of the products in a given national market with respect to other national markets.3 In other words, one of the key issues associated with intellectual property protection is whether an intellectual property right owner can use intellectual property rights against the (re)importation of the protected products from another country, when these products have been first put onto the market in that country by the intellectual property owner herself or her licensees. At the present time, there is not a consensus as to whether this importation is lawful—in other words whether countries should adopt “international exhaustion” instead of national exhaustion regarding intellectual property rights.

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