First to speak after lunch was Institute of Practitioners in Advertising's Becky Chong, looking at the use of third party brand names and copyright material in advertising and marketing material. Summarising the basic IP issues, Becky was soon launching into Advertising Standards Authority adjudications and BCAP and CAP regulation.
Dead celebrities do not automatically enter the public domain; they may be registered as trade marks and some such personages -- notably Albert Einstein -- are the subject of litigation.
Online advertising is governed by the Advertising Standards Authority, Becky reminded us, though not everyone is yet aware of this. This can affect sponsored tweets and other online communications, where there has to be some clear indication that the online content is an advertisement and not a genuine private communication.
Chris Stothers (Arnold & Porter) spoke next, on grey goods and the problems they raise for the retail sector. Distinguishing genuine, grey and counterfeit goods, Chris then asked the important questions: (i) who cares and (ii) why? Suppliers, retailers and consumers are all interested, in their respective ways. IP rights are only part of the story, since -- despite EU competition laws -- many businesses seek to restrict the free movement of goods through contract or may refuse to contract with certain parties. They may be able to get away with this if they do not hold a dominant position within the European single market and, even if they don't and they are named and shamed following a Commission investigation, the naming and shaming won't be felt until some years after the initial restrictions have been imposted.
The flip side of parallel imports is parallel exports, which can cause local shortages and force up prices in the home market. As Chris pointed out, in the UK the pricing of pharmaceutical products has caused a shift from parallel imports to parallel export, and this has indeed caused some problems with availability.
What risks do retailers face? The main issue is how you complain to the supplier, so as not to be tarnished with the label of being anticompetitive. Compliance training can come in handy there. If you are selling grey goods, you want to satisfy yourself that they were truly first put on the market in the European Economic Area (EEA) -- though suppliers may be a bit coy about providing the relevant information. Oh, and don't forget to have a budget for dealing with any issues relating to loss of supply or the cost of enforcement.