The history of U.S. trademark law in general, and of parallel importation doctrine in particular, is marked by two dualistic ideas. The first is a strand of thinking about trademark law's "twofold purpose," according to which the law simultaneously protects the interests of the trademark owner and the consuming public. The second is a distinction often drawn between the "universality" and "territoriality" of trademark law. One of the goals of this study is to examine the history of these two strands of dualistic thought and of the relationship between them.
A second and more basic goal is to set forth a full chronology of the legal events--the cases, bills, statutes, regulations, and important commentaries-- which formed the medium within which the doctrinal development could take place. The past decade has produced a great deal of writing on parallel importation, but the history of the subject is often treated summarily, as if it warrants no in-depth inquiry. Thus while those familiar with the subject may recognize many of the topics covered here, much of the actual information presented will be new.
For the most part this study leaves to others the task of relating parallel importation doctrine to broader social, economic, political, or business trends. Moreover, this work generally confines itself to the realm of trademark law and to legislation specifically addressing parallel imports, and declines to investigate such other approaches as copyright, fraud, antitrust, trade law, or racketeering. 1 The narrowness of this approach makes it possible to present a detailed account of the development of doctrine in one particular area. Ultimately, therefore, it may be of value to anyone with a much broader interest in the history of legal thought.