Glossary of competition terms

This Glossary was prepared by DG COMP and the OECD for non-competition specialists. Each term is enriched with references of national case laws from the e-Competitions Bulletin. (© European Union - © OECD)

Exhaustion

Intellectual property rights (IPRs) such as patents and trademarks give the developer certain exclusive rights over the exploitation of his work, such as in production and commerce. However, within the EU, the exclusive right cannot be used to artificially split up the common market along national borders. Therefore, the holder of an IPR in a Member State cannot oppose the import of a product protected by the IPR into that Member State, where that product was already put on the market in another Member State by the holder or with his consent. To this extent the holder’s IPR is considered to be exhausted. The principle of exhaustion does not apply with regard to products put on the market in third countries.

See also: Intellectual property right

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