Grey Market/Parallel Importing is Legal in Korea: Protecting your Brand in Korea

Parallel Importing, in general, is legal in Korea.  The Supreme Court has rule in 2002 in the landmark Burberry Case that:

“As a consequence, in spite of the Exclusive Importer’s agreement with the Original Manufacturer that guarantees the exclusive right to Import to the Exclusive Importer, parallel importing does not constitute a violation of Korean Laws and the Parallel Importer is not bound by the contractual rights and obligations granted and imposed by the exclusivity agreement between the Sole Importer and the Original Manufacturer.”

Simply, the argument is that the Parallel Importer is not a party to the contract and no other Korean Law is violated.   Most jurisdictions have come to identical conclusions.  

I will be writing over the next few weeks about other parallel importing issues including issues related to unfair competition, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks and how to protect your brands in Korea from grey market goods.  Take a look. 

Other posts that may be of interest:

Sean Hayes may be contacted at:

Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team and Entertainment, Media and New Tech Law Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty. He assists clients in their contentious, non-contentious and business developments needs in Korea and China.

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