Monday, September 14, 2009

Legislature of Puerto Rico tackles a perceived problem of parallel imports potentially implicating the Law 75 interests of exclusive distributors

Judicial decisions have not conclusively put an end to litigation on whether (or when) an exclusive distributor would state a Law 75 claim for impairment (or for tortious interference) when its principal sells a product covered by the exclusive agreement to a third party (usually a stateside wholesaler or broker) who then sells the product for resale, consumption, or use by customers within Puerto Rico.

In P. of C. 1945 of August 27, 2009, the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico (Jimenez-Negron), drafted legislation to remedy what is perceived as a loophole in Law 75 caused when “foreign companies that are established in Puerto Rico bring products whose exclusivity is protected by distribution contracts registered (sic, protected) by Law 75” and these companies “profit from the efforts of persons that have exclusive rights…”.

The proposed legislation would amend the just cause protection in Article 2-A (b)(5) of Law 75 by establishing an additional presumption of lack of just cause “when the principal permits another client to establish in Puerto Rico the sale of a product that is protected by an exclusive agreement (translation ours).” The project was referred to the Commission for Economic Development, Planning, Commerce, Industry and Telecommunications.