Right of Reply: Gary Lux

The Parallel Traders Association chief responds to an article by Diane Coyle last Friday
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The Independent Culture
BRITISH CONSUMERS are ripped off consistently in comparison with other countries in the world. Often, as with The Independent's article last week, British retailers are wrongly singled out as the villains of the piece.

The real "villains", and a primary reason why British shoppers have to dig deeper into their pockets than their Continental or US counterparts, are big name brand-owners who abuse the current EU trademark regime.

Following a ruling in the European Court of Justice last year, brand- owners have exploited an advantage in the current EU Trademark Directive to the point that it is now nigh-on impossible for parallel traders to import certain goods into the UK from outside the European Union without the consent of the brand-owner.

The net outcome of this ruling is that the British shopper pays significantly greater prices for designer goods such as Nike trainers, Levi's jeans and Calvin Klein perfumes.

The big brand names are content to allow this blatant unfairness to continue, but the Parallel Traders Association (PTA) is not. We are committed to securing an amendment to the EU Trademark Directive to enable parallel trade from markets outside the European Economic Area to take place.

If we succeed, then the price of consumer goods will fall at a stroke. Research carried out by the PTA and the national press reveals that parallel imported goods are up to 70 per cent cheaper than those sold elsewhere on the high street.

Britain elected its new MEPs on Thursday. We will be asking them, as well as government ministers, to take up the cudgels on behalf of the UK shopper and fight to end this inequitable anomaly.