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Australian Ambassador: Tobacco Packaging Legislation Does Not Violate TRIPS

Australian Ambassador Kim Beasley has vowed that Australia will not change the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act, which prohibits cigarette packs from displaying brands and logos, despite accusations that the law violates international trademark law.  According to Inside U.S. Trade, last week Beasley “dismissed U.S. companies’ claims that the plain packaging law… unjustifiably restricts the use of their trademarks in violation of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.”

Philip Morris has also served a notice of claim on the Australian government, announcing its intention to challenge the law as a violation of the Australia’s investment treaty with Hong Kong.

Last month, the bill was the subject of debate at the TRIPS Council, where a group of developing countries suggested the legislation would violate Article 20 of TRIPS, which states: “The use of a trademark in the course of trade shall not be unjustifiably encumbered by special requirements.”

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