Arab Today, arab today trademark warnings over australia tobacco plan
Last Updated : GMT 02:32:13
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Trademark warnings over Australia tobacco plan

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Trademark warnings over Australia tobacco plan

SYDNEY - AFP

Australia was warned that its plan to force tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in plain packaging would set a dangerous precedent on the use of trademarks and other intellectual property. Under proposed legislation, due to take effect next year, all logos would be removed from cigarette packets, which would have to be a drab olive-green colour and be plastered with graphic health warnings. The big tobacco companies have vowed to fight the move and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) secretary general Jean-Guy Carrier has sent a letter to Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson outlining his concerns. "The ability of brand owners to market their product in unique and easily identifiable ways is a core element of a developed society's protection of intellectual property rights," ICC spokesman Jeffrey Hardy said in a statement. "Removing one industry's ability to use its intellectual property rights opens the door to extend this violation of IP rights to other industries and other brand owners in Australia and around the world." Several governments have previously considered and rejected plain packaging as a solution to controlling tobacco use. The Paris-based ICC said there had been no research and no data to support plain packaging as a deterrent to smoking. "The proposed regulations undermine the Australian government's goals of fostering and encouraging the growth of markets for Australian products," Hardy said. "Australia has been a leading voice in support of IP and rules-based commerce, but the proposed regulations mandating the elimination of trademarks... is in direct and dangerous conflict with this view. "We urge the Australian government to reject 'plain packaging' and look for alternative policy options." Around 15,000 Australians die of smoking-related diseases every year, with tobacco use costing the country Aus$31.5 billion ($32.9 billion) annually in healthcare and lost productivity. A survey released Sunday showed most Australians support plain packaging. Commissioned by the Cancer Council, a poll of 1,200 people found 59 percent approved of the plan while 24 percent disapproved, with the rest non-committal. Although Australia would be the first country to mandate plain packaging for cigarettes, New Zealand, Canada and Britain have considered a similar policy.

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