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A recent case, Paul’s Retail Pty ltd v Lonsdale Australia Pty Ltd  considered the question of whether importing goods would amount to use of a trade mark, and as a result, might amount to an infringement of a trademark. This case was brought by Lonsdale Australia against Paul’s Retail. Paul’s Retail had been purchasing and importing products that bore the Lonsdale trademark from a European company that was licensed to manufacture goods and affix the Lonsdale mark to them. These products were of different quality and price to the goods sold in Australia and were intended for the European market. This practice is referred to as parallel importation, where goods are purchased in a foreign jurisdiction and for a lower purchase price. Paul’s Retail attempted to defend this claim by arguing that, as the goods were genuine, there could be no infringing use. The Full Federal Court rejected this argument affirming the trial judge’s decision that Paul’s Retail had infringed the marks held by Lonsdale Australia by importing the goods.
The decision has indicated a number of key factors that importers should be aware of: