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Parallel imports and unparallel laws: an examination of the exhaustion doctrine through the lens of pharmaceutical products

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Parallel imports, the natural consequence of exhaustion doctrine, represent a complex interaction between the issue of free flow of international trade and the protection of intellectual property rights. There is considerable divergence among scholars, both economic and legal, about the need for harmonisation of principles of exhaustion, and consequently parallel import laws. In this article, we examine the need for harmonisation of parallel import laws through the lens of pharmaceutical products. We highlight the necessity for the affirmative norm of exhaustion doctrine in the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement and suggest amendment to TRIPS Agreement Article 6 mandating international exhaustion doctrine as international legal standard with limited exceptions as an intermediate approach to strike a balance between the interests of the IP owners and consumers, and concurrently addressing the concerns of developed and developing countries.

Keywords: TRIPS Agreement; exclusive rights exhaustion; national; parallel imports; pharmaceutical products; regional and international exhaustion

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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