Select Committee on Trade and Industry Annxes to the Report

Follow-up Question


It would be helpful to have from OFTEL an update on the situation with 0500 numbers, which it was stated in its response might be left unchanged

  OFTEL issued a statement on Freephone Numbering in December 1999 which confirmed that users of 0500 numbers could retain their number. The Statement also said that OFTEL would consider possibilities for optional 0500 migration into 0800 numbers.

  During the course of this year, operators have discussed the possible migration arrangements that could be provided, but ultimately could reach no agreement. In this time, although OFTEL's consumer representation section has received some 40 calls from 0500 customers seeking confirmation that they may retain their number, it has received no calls from 0500 customers seeking to change their number to an 0800 number.

  However, in lieu of the commitment made in the December 1999 statement, OFTEL is now working with Cable & Wireless, the operator with the majority of 0500 customers, to prepare a circular to its customers to determine if they would prefer an 0800 number to their existing 0500 number. OFTEL will shortly invite all operators with 0500 customers to do likewise. The information received will allow OFTEL to consider the most appropriate migration arrangements for those that wish to change.

  It is envisaged that this work should be completed by early next year.

Trade Marks, Fakes and Consumers, Eighth Report of 1998-99, HC 380; Government Response, Tenth Special Report, HC 797

  1.  During the course of its inquiry into the pricing of motor cars, the Committee received a substantial amount of evidence on "parallel" and "grey" importing of cars, that is, the importation of cars outside the usual channels of distribution. In view of the broader issues raised; of the 16 July 1998 judgement in the Silhouette case; and of a number of well publicised cases of retailers being threatened with legal action for offering branded goods purchased on the grey market, the Committee decided in February 1999 to invite evidence on a range of these issues. The Report was published in June 1999; the Government's response was received in September 1999.

  2.  One of the Report's key recommendations was that in the areas of clothing and shoes, perfumes and toiletries, and motor vehicles, the potential consumer benefits of international exhaustion of trade mark rights outweigh the dis-benefits. In other sectors, for example the pharmaceutical and music industries, the problems would outweigh the benefits. It recommended adoption of a broad principle of international exhaustion of trade mark rights allowing grey imports of goods but affording exceptional protection to those sectors where such a principle could be seen to have severe detrimental effects. The Government response stated they agreed that adoption of international exhaustion of trade mark rights could be beneficial but further study was needed.

  3.  At the Internal Market Council on 25 May 2000, Commissioner Bolkestein announced that the Commission had decided not to propose a change to the Community-wide exhaustion regime.

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