The price of expensive drugs and certain hi-tech products could be reduced significantly if plans to widen parallel imports of patented goods are adopted. Deputy Secretary for Commerce and Industry Kenneth Mak Ching-yu said the move was aimed at further improving the free flow of goods. The Government has already legalised the parallel import of trademarked products such as hi-fi and TV sets, and is going to amend the law to lift the ban on computer software. The bureau is consulting the public on the opening up of copyright works, such as books, magazines, videos and music CDs. Mr Mak said the prices of such goods would fall if the proposal was endorsed. Parallel goods are genuine products imported from overseas agents who have a legitimate licence issued by the brand owner, but are not the official local distributors. Such goods are sold at a lower price as entrepreneurs buy them in bulk elsewhere and undercut the official source. At present, parallel imports of patented goods like drugs or hi-tech electrical products are illegal unless agreed by the patent holder. A patent can be a product or a process of production. Many electrical appliances make use of patented processes or contain patented components. Mr Mak said lifting the ban would be in line with the Government's principle on the free flow of goods. He said freeing patented goods would be necessary when the ban on parallel imports of trademark products and copyright works was lifted. 'We see it as a logical move that would be made for the sake of consistency to what we have done regarding opening up the parallel import markets.' Mr Mak said the issue would be included in another consultation exercise over the existing Copyrights Ordinance next year. But Robert Siu Shu-yok, executive director of the Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry, said a removal of the ban on parallel imports of patented drugs would worsen the problem of unregistered drugs.