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Thread: Grey Market

  1. #1

    Grey Market

    I was wondering, is everything at Badger Grey market and how can you tell? I tho ught I heard someone say it was. But somethings like the 45AX I'm thinking of bu ying is only about $100 cheaper than normal. If it is, it would seem like it mig ht be better to get the AII from Robert White for the same price. If I'm not get ting any factory service anway or buy a non grey market. But what's to break any way ;-) Thanks, Ed

  2. #2

    Grey Market

    I can't help you re: Badger but I do know that Robert White won't ship Toyo products to a U.S. address ... or at least that's what it says on his site.

  3. #3

    Grey Market

    hmmmm Guess that rules that idea out...I looked and couldn't find that ifo on his site. Where is it located?

  4. #4

    Grey Market

    Hmmm ... I just checked and couldn't find it, either! However, it WAS there just a few weeks ago when I wanted to order a Toyo 6x7 back from him so perhaps things have changed since then...

  5. #5

    Grey Market

    Mamiya America Corporation is the official exclusive USA importer of Toyo view cameras (and obviously Mamiya MF cameras). I believe that Robert White is an official importer of Toyo (and many other brands) in the EU (although possibly not an exclusive importer). Because Mamiya America Corporation is not owned by Toyo (nor I believe by Mamiya Japan), there was at one time clear US import law that protected them against gray market goods (even if the goods were imported by a authorized dealer from another country).

    There are two problems with Mamiya America Corporation enforcing this exclusive Toyo (and Mamiya) trademark in the USA. First, if someone buys goods from Robert White in the UK, the purchaser (not Robert White) is the USA importer, and US Customs is unlikely to stop such goods in single quantities from entering the US. Since the importation of genuine goods in violation of an exclusive import license is not a criminal violation (unlike importing counterfeit goods), US Customs does not usually get involved.

    This means that any remedies that Mamiya America Corporation could employ to enforce its exclusive import license would be done in civil courts by seeking financial compensation for their loss. But it is not very practical for Mamiya America Corporation to file such lawsuits against individual importers who buy single quantities from Robert White.

    Second, there has been recent a Supreme Court ruling that suggest that such exclusive import licenses are not enforceable.'anza.htm But keep in mind that court rulings are not always applicable to other situations (with lightly different circumstances), and US Customs regulations are a very, very murky area of the law.

    However, since Toyo Japan relies on Mamiya America Corporation to market (spending their own money doing so) Toyo products in the USA, they probably want to keep their distributor relatively happy. Toyo Japan can put pressure on Robert White to not ship to the USA by threatening to have their import relationship in the EU terminated. This probably explains why the Robert White web site said (up until recently) that they would not ship to the USA.

    But given the recent USA Supreme Court ruling, and since Toyo also wants to keep Robert White happy (they probably move quite a lot of Toyo gear), Toyo Japan has probably backed off a bit.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Redondo Beach

    Grey Market

    Michael....finally a clear explanation of the problem. No matter what happens, I'm not going back to paying what I used to pay when I can pay half to Robert White and still be treated like a King.

    This is about greed, I would say support Robert White since he is the one saving us money, not just on Toyo, but on everything he sells. They need to keep us happy most of all since we're the ones buying.
    Jonathan Brewer

  7. #7
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Grey Market

    I just bought a Gitzo G1570M head from Robert White and came out $50 cheaper than B&H even after shipping from the UK, and that's not counting local sales tax, which I pay, since I'm local to B&H.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Redondo Beach

    Grey Market

    The logic of this is just mindboggling, put money in their pockets, and they only reason they don't sue you for picking their gear in the first place is that it would be impractical for them to sue each and every customer who buys from Robert White instead of getting gouged here.
    Jonathan Brewer

  9. #9

    Grey Market

    Michael: Thanks for your posting. We in the LFF need a lawyer for this one. Logic tells me that Mamiya's use of trademark law to prevent users from importing any of their products from other countries is really an abuse of trademark law, which was not intended for the purpose of setting up exclusive import licenses. After all, the product bearing Mamiya trademarks is manufactured by the same firm that owns Mamiya America and Mamiya Japan. In other words, by Mamiya's application of TM law, the manufacturer can have two identical trademarks, one which is owned by the manufacturer in Japan and the other by its selling branch in the US which by any other name is virtually no other than the manufacturer itself. In other words, the manufacturer claims that trademark law allows it to alone pass goods from his left to its right hand. The supreme court ruling ruled that these exclusive import practices are not enforceable. Is that all? it should have declared them illegal, after all, they have helped greedy manufacturers rip additional profits off US and Canadian users. Am I wrong?

  10. #10

    Grey Market

    Just to clarify a few issues from above. In situations like Toyo where they rely on independent companies to do their marketing and distribution outside of Japan, there is usually no such thing as a ?factory warranty.? The warranty is usually offered by the importer (Mamiya America Corporation, Robert White, etc.) in the specific country they import into, and is considered to be a marketing expense. The warranty coverage can be different in each country, especially since local laws may have some impact on the legal wording of the warranty terms.

    Obviously, the "official authorized" importer (who provides warranty service in the local country) is able to purchase parts, manuals, receive training, etc. from the factory, but the warranty and non- warranty service expense is usually absorbed by the local marketing organization (importer). Depending on what the agreement is between the importer and the manufacturer, the factory may, or may not, be responsible for reimbursing the importer for defective parts within a specified timeframe. The price the importer pays the manufacturer for the original goods is somewhat determined by how much warranty liability the importer is assuming for themselves.

    In the case of gray market goods (not Robert White, but probably Badger Graphics on some items), the importer does not purchase from the manufacturer, but usually from an official importer or retailer in another country. So it is best to simply ask about (and get in writing) the specifics of the warranty service, such as where it will be performed and how long it usually takes. Some gray market retailers simply replace the item (with a new or used one) if there is a problem, since it may be difficult or time consuming to get repaired. In these cases, you must rely on the integrity of the gray market importer to make good on the warranty. From comments I have heard, Badger Graphics is very good in this regard.

    Some ?authorized exclusive? importers such as Mamiya America Corporation may say that they do not perform any service (including non-warranty service for a fee) on equipment they do not import. That is their right to refuse such service, since part of the profit of every item they sell goes toward setting up the warranty and repair facilities in the USA.

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