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Imperial Tobacco becomes 2nd company to challenge packaging laws in Australia’s High Court

By Associated Press, Published: December 6, 2011

CANBERRA, Australia — A second major tobacco company went to Australia’s High Court on Tuesday to argue that new laws banning logos from cigarette packs are unconstitutional.

Imperial Tobacco Australia Ltd., the third-largest company in the Australian tobacco market, filed pleadings in the country’s highest court. British American Tobacco Australia Ltd., the Australian market leader, initiated similar action last week against laws banning distinctive colors and designs from packs and rendering them uniformly olive-brown starting in December 2012.

Imperial Tobacco says the laws breach Australia’s constitution because they acquire intellectual property on unjust terms.

Last month, Australia became the first country to pass such strict packaging laws, which are aimed at stripping away any lingering glamour associated with smoking.

Tobacco companies say the law will slash billions of dollars from the values of their brands.

The government has said it anticipates court challenges and expects them to be defeated.

While the two tobacco companies’ cases are separate, the High Court could decide to hear them together.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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