New Report from AGMA Member Cites Intellectual Property Law as Critical Component of Gray Market Strategy

Milton Springut Identifies Legal Strategies to Deploy in Fight against Tech Industry’s Billion Dollar Problem

LOS GATOS, Calif., Oct. 15, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Gray market goods – genuine, branded products sold through unauthorized distribution channels or imported into another country without the consent and knowledge of the brand owner – continue to plague the IT industry. Billions of dollars’ worth of tech products are sold on the gray market every year, and that number is on the rise. Left unchecked, unauthorized sales can raise costs, erode margins and damage brand reputations. Seeking to provide relief, AGMA, a non-profit organization and the largest group solely focused on IP protection in the high-tech industry, has teamed with Milton Springut, founding partner of intellectual property law firm Springut Law, to issue a report titled, “Using IP to Control Gray Goods.”

While IP law has long had a role to play in the fight against gray marketing, recent years have seen the Supreme Court hand down decisions that have limited the extent to which patent and copyright laws can be applied to gray goods – much to the chagrin of manufacturers. However, according to the AGMA/Springut report, trademark law remains a viable legal means of controlling gray market activities, and should be included as an essential element of any gray market strategy.

In the report, Springut details two different strategies brand owners can employ to bypass the constraints of these court rulings – and emerge victorious:

  • The use of material differences between goods sold in different countries. By creating some material differences between a product sold abroad and one sold in the U.S., the product intended for sale abroad would not be considered genuine in the U.S. Selling it in the U.S. would constitute trademark infringement – opening up perpetrators to prosecution.
  • The use of serial numbers and related records of production. Serial numbers identifying each unit (or at least each batch of units) stamped or printed on the product are a powerful tool to control gray goods. When large numbers of gray goods appear on the market, serial numbers can be used to trace the sources of the leaks, and then attempt to stop them.

The report also discusses the relative advantages and disadvantages of each strategy, and the business considerations that should be considered in choosing and implementing them.
“The importance of bringing in industry experts to shed light on the often intricate, complicated matters surrounding IP protection cannot be underestimated,” noted AGMA president Sally Nguyen. “AGMA membership brings immediate access to entities and individuals that are on the front lines – and the extensive knowledge they possess. After reading the AGMA/Springut report, member companies will be armed with the insights and best practices they need to put a gray market strategy in place – and put a stop to noncompliant behavior.” 

As an industry association, AGMA is chartered with addressing key threats to intellectual property in the high-tech industry. To read the recently released AGMA/Springut report, please click here. To learn more about AGMA, please visit

About AGMA
AGMA is a nonprofit organization comprised of influential companies in the technology sector. Incorporated in 2001, AGMA’s mission is to address gray market fraud, parallel imports, counterfeiting, software piracy, and service abuse of technology products around the globe. The organization’s goals are to protect intellectual property and authorized distribution channels, improve customer satisfaction and preserve brand integrity.

AGMA welcomes technology manufacturers, as well as persons or entities that own or hold intellectual property rights to finished goods outside the technology industry; government and law enforcement officials; product and service providers who provide goods and/or services to combat gray market fraud, counterfeiting and warranty and service abuse threats. AGMA uses a variety of avenues to cultivate change in the marketplace, including event speaking, educational initiatives, benchmark studies, industry guidelines, and, where appropriate, public policy advocacy. To learn more about AGMA’s initiatives or to become a member, please visit or follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Media Contact:
Stephanie Olsen
Lages & Associates
(949) 453-8080

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Springut Report Cover