Grey Market Imports: A Genuine Problem for the United States Trademark Owner, Customs Service, and Courts

Curry, Barbara A. | January 1, 1986

Each year billions of dollars worth of goods are produced by foreign manufacturers and legitimately sold abroad under a particular trademark and are then imported into the United States and sold without permission from the foreign manufacturers or the authorized United States distributors of these goods. When imported into this country, these foreign goods are sold in competition with goods of the owners of the United States trademark rights in the identical foreign marks. Such goods have come to be known as “grey market” imports. These goods are not counterfeit products, which are often called “black market” goods; rather, they are genuine goods which bear authentic trademarks. The unauthorized importation of grey market goods is a widespread practice and is viewed as a grave problem for many United States trademark owners.