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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Repackaging of Pharmaceuticals

Parallel Importation and Repackaging of Pharmaceuticals within the European Community

Single market integration within the EC has induced notable growth in parallel importation in general, but with the further harmonisation of the internal market, the potential profit in such activity declines. This trend for declining profits has not been the case with pharmaceuticals however, as pricing decisions are constrained by the varying mandatory rules presented by national public authorities. Consequently, pharmaceuticals remain subject to continuous parallel intra-Community importation.It is no wonder then, that during recent years pharmaceutical producers have often contested the means and the extent of parallel importation in court. Most often, the claim has been that of a trademark infringement, as the importers tend to repackage the goods prior to introducing them to a new market. According to the First Council Directive 89/104/EEC relating to trademark law (Trademark Directive), the exclusive right conferred by the trademark entitles the proprietor to prevent all third parties from using the trademark in the course of trade without his consent. Accordingly, repackaged products that have a trademark affixed on the package typically constitute a breach of this fundamental proprietary right.


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By Lasse Laaksonen and Ben Rapinoja, Lawyers at Borenius & Kemppinen Ltd

Lasse Laaksonen advises clients in the fields of intellectual property, information technology and general business law.

Prior to joining Borenius & Kemppinen, Lasse worked at a specialist IP practice, the Central Chamber of Commerce of Finland, the Trade Register and the Institute of International Economic Law.

Lasse has also furthered his law studies as an exchange student in London.

Ben Rapinoja is Attorney-at-Law practising in the fields of licensing, litigation and commercial utilisation of intellectual property rights. His areas of expertise are patents, trademarks and contract law. Ben also advises companies in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors in matters related to private equity finance, corporate law and contracts.

Before joining Borenius & Kemppinen, Ben worked at the Ministry of Trade and Industry representing the Finnish Government in various expert groups of the European Union's Council, Commission and the European Patent Organisation.

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Lasse Laaksonen
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Ben Rapinoja
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