The present Copyright Ordinance outlaws parallel import ( ) of a copyright work. Goods of parallel import for the purpose of the Copyright Ordinance means a copy of that work which was lawfully manufactured in the country or territory where it was made. Such works, despite being authentic, are defined by the Ordinance as 'infringing copy'. According to the Ordinance, a copy of copyright work imported into Hong Kong by way of parallel import and which, if made in Hong Kong, would have either infringed the copyright in that work, or breached an exclusive licence agreement relating to the software, is regarded as an infringing copy.
Whether the goods so imported are 'infringing copy' has a time element, namely it only been published for 18 months or less.
Henceforth, if the works are so imported into Hong Kong and are possessed for the purpose of, in connection with or in the course of trade or business, it is a criminal offence. The penalty is just like possessing a 'pirated copy' of a work. The maximum penalty is $50,000 per infringing copy (which is in fact a copy so imported by parallel import) and 4 years imprisonment.
Goods having been published for more than 18 months will not attract criminal liability. It will nevertheless potentially attract civil liability under the trade mark laws.
In May, 2001, the Industry and Commerce Bureau has released for consultation a proposal to remove the criminal and civil liability elements on possession etc of computer programs imported into Hong Kong by parallel import. The proposal originated from the public's outcry of insufficient competitiveness of the market in computer programs. The consultation closes on 15 June 2001.