A guide into stress-free product compliance

Market Release date

Disclaimer: This document provides guidance and is not a legally binding interpretation and shall therefore not be relied upon as legal advice.

What is the market release date of my technical file?

A product must comply with legislation as soon as it is placed on the market. It is the manufacturer's responsibility to determine which EU legislation is applicable at that time.
ProductIP determines the requirements based on the 'market release date' of the technical file. The market release date is the date on which EU legislation becomes applicable to a product.
Thus, the market release date must be the same as the date a product is placed on the market.

The moment you offer a product to another party for distribution or use, it has been put on the market and offered for sale. The product must comply with the legislation in place at that time. That moment is the market release date in the technical file at ProductIP.

Who does what

Manufacturers and importers are the only market participants who place products on the market. When a manufacturer or importer first supplies a product to a distributor or an end user, this action is called "placing on the market." Any action thereafter, such as from distributor to distributor or from distributor to end-user, is called "offering on the market."

Based on the roles in the chain, this looks like the following:

  • A manufacturer who manufactures (and offers) a product in the EU markets a product.
  • An importer who imports (and offers) a product from outside the EU markets a product.
  • A distributor offers products on the market (to a subsequent distributor or to the end user).
  • An end user has no obligations within the framework of product conformity, the legislation applies until the product reaches the end user.

The legislation applies as soon as a product is put on the market ánd it applies to every further act by which the product is offered until it reaches the end user. 

Placing on the market and making available on the market

  • To market: to offer a product for the first time on the market;
  • Offering on the market: providing a product for distribution, consumption or use.

Thus, the date on which something is placed on the market is always earlier than (or equal to) the date on which a product can be made available on the market. This date is determined by the applicable law.

The concepts of placing on the market and offering on the market deserve an explanation.


PLACING ON THE MARKET

The definition can be found in the New Legislative Framework (NLF), Regulation (EC) 765/2008 and Decision 768/2008/EC.
"Placing on the market" means making a product available on the Community market for the first time.

The key moment in the application of EU legislation is the moment when a product is placed on the market. A product must comply with EU legislation from the first moment it is made available on the market. Only this specific moment is called placing on the market. The concept of placing on the market is important (especially) for this reason.

Thus, a product is placed on the market when it is first made available on the EU market.
This key moment must be equal to the market release date of the technical files in your ProductIP account.

MAKING AVAILABLE ON THE MARKET

The definition can be found in the New Legislative Framework (NLF), Regulation (EC) 765/2008 and Decision 768/2008/EC.
"Making available on the market" means providing a product for distribution, consumption or use on the Community market in the course of a commercial activity, whether in return for payment or not.

  • Commercial activity means the business of providing goods (supplying products).
  • Providing here means any offer for distribution, consumption or use, such as for example an invitation to purchase or an advertising campaign, which could lead to an actual supply.

Offering a product on the market presupposes an offer or an agreement between two parties for the transfer of a product. Transfer means, for example, that a product is sold, lent, rented, leased or donated; the product is made available to another party, such as a distributor or a user.

A product can be offered to the market only after it has been manufactured. An offer to manufacture a product to certain specifications, whereby the product is not manufactured and delivered until a later point in time, cannot be considered marketing. This has a legal background, products (goods) must exist to be covered by legislation. It also prevents an offer on paper from being made at a very early stage in order to circumvent possibly applicable EU legislation later on.

To offer on the market is exactly what you would expect; to create the possibility (the offer) through which another can obtain the existing product (for distribution or use).

So the moment a product is stocked (anywhere) is not a determining factor. Also the moment that a product is actually shipped, imported or passes customs is not decisive.
It only concerns the (first) moment that a product is offered for distribution or delivery in the EU, after the product has been manufactured.

Each individual product

The term "placing on the market" refers to each individual product.
As with offering, the term "placing on the market" also refers to each individual product.

Thus, the first-time criterion also applies to each individual product. It is not limited to the first time a certain type of product has been put on the market. When an existing product is remanufactured or imported, the EU legislation applicable at the time these (new) products are placed on the market applies; and therefore not the EU legislation as it applied to the products previously placed on the market.

Batches, lots and re-orders

The marketing of the next batch of products is therefore subject to the requirements applicable at the time of import or manufacture.

Identical products manufactured in the EU at the same time and then offered on the market are marketed simultaneously. And identical products imported into the EU at the same time and then placed on the market are placed on the market at the same time. Therefore, this batch of products is subject to the same moment of placing on the market and therefore the same EU legislation.
Each batch has its own set of requirements and this is determined by the date on which the batch in question is placed on the market, this date being the market release date of the technical file for this batch.
A batch of products is described in its own technical dossier.

Even if products of the same model or type in a previous batch were already supplied before the new EU legislation with new mandatory requirements came into force, the individual new products of that model or type (the new batch), which are placed on the market after the new requirements have come into force, must therefore comply with those new requirements.

Documentation from the technical files of previous batches may be used but only to the extent that the requirements listed therein have remained the same.
In ProductIP, the existing documentation is copied when cloning the existing file to the new file. This new file, with a new market release date, has its own up-to-date list of requirements.
The technical dossier of the previous batch, already marketed, can be closed.

Putting into use

In certain legislation, the moment the end user uses the product for the first time within the EU (putting into service) is also important. The term is used in relation to elevators, machinery, medical devices, measuring instruments and industrial plants, among others. Putting into service is thus used alongside placing on the market, and extends the scope of EU law beyond the moment when a product is made available on the market. If an employer puts a product into service for use by its employees, the employer is considered the end user.

Putting goods into free circulation

The release of goods (products) into free circulation is a customs procedure. Once products from outside the EU (non-Community goods) have 'passed through' the customs territory, they are in free circulation and the goods acquire the customs status of Community (EU) goods. This means that the goods can participate freely in the EU internal market, without remaining subject to customs supervision. In general, the date of release for free circulation is the same as the date of placing on the market, but exceptions occur. Therefore, for the purposes of legislation, the date of release for free circulation does not apply, only the date of marketing.

The moment you offer a product to another party for distribution or use, it has been put on the market and offered for sale. The product must comply with the legislation in place at that time. That moment is the market release date in the technical file at ProductIP.


Want to know more?

A detailed explanation of the above text can be found in the "Blue Guide".

The Blue Guide covers the following situations, among others:

  • Products offered for sale online;
  • Products stored in order houses within the EU;
  • Sales through a catalog;
  • Brand owners are manufacturers;
  • Manufacturer's use of proxies;
  • Used and second-hand products;
  • Modified or reconditioned products;
  • Free products;
  • Software updates and repairs;
  • Deliveries by charities or hobbyists;
  • Combinations of products and parts that individually comply with legislation.

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