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Kuits advises parallel importer on initial victory over Procter & Gamble in major decision

18 Apr 2016

Manchester commercial law firm Kuits has advised a parallel importer in successfully defending a summary judgement against Proctor & Gamble (P&G) in a High Court battle.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) commenced proceedings back in 2014 against Greater Manchester-based Star Global Trading Limited in respect of fragrance products that it alleged were sold without the right to do so in the European market. The case concerns the infringement of registered trade mark and decoding of certain fragrance products.

P&G were acting on behalf of Gucci, Lacoste, Hugo Boss and Dolce & Gabbana. Kuits represented Mr Dipak Thakrar, former director of Star Global, in the proceedings.

The summary judgment application came before Mr Justice Henry Carr in the Intellectual Property Division of the High Court in London.

P&G petitioned for a summary judgment that would state that Star Global had no right to sell decoded fragrance products due to legal restrictions on repackaging, and that the burden of proof lay with Star Global as the importer.

Mr Justice Henry Carr denied P&G’s application and refused P&G the permission to appeal, commenting: “P&G was unable to say for the purposes of summary judgment, that the decoding would be noticed by the consumer or would affect the reputation of the product.”

Ian Morris, Partner and Head of Intellectual Property at Kuits, said: “This is a major victory for our client and those who believe in free competition.

“This matter is of real significance not only in that it is not clear where the burden of proof lay, but that repackaging involving only decoding may not be the same as reboxing – as in some of the established cases, in particular dealing with pharmaceutical products.

“There is a real prospect a trial will limit the ability of brand owners to control the market in Europe, and thus potentially bring EEA practice closer to the rest of the world, where exhaustion of trade mark rights is concerned.”

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