Guardian (UK) (August 15, 2012 11:01 PM)
Australia's highest court has endorsed cigarette plain-packaging laws that will force tobacco companies to remove branding from their products. British American Tobacco, Britain's Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco challenged the laws in Australia's high court, claiming the rules were unconstitutional because they in effect extinguished the companies' intellectual property rights.
But the court found that laws to force companies to remove all branding and sell tobacco only in generic packets, which also carry graphic health warnings, did not breach trademark rights.
The laws, the toughest in the world, are in line with World Health Organisation recommendations and are being watched closely by Britain, Norway, New Zealand, Canada and India, which are considering similar measures.
The decision means that from December tobacco companies will no longer be able to display distinctive colours, brand designs and logos on cigarette packs. Instead, they will come in a uniform shade of olive green and feature graphic health warnings and images such as cancer-riddled mouths. The government hopes the new packs will make smoking as unglamorous as possible.
The companies fear the law will set a global precedent that could slash billions of dollars from the value of their brands. Reuters Canberra
(c) 2012 Guardian Newspapers Limited.