Managing IP is part of the Delinian Group, Delinian Limited, 8 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX, Registered in England & Wales, Company number 00954730
Copyright © Delinian Limited and its affiliated companies 2023

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

Free access: Plain tobacco packaging becomes law in Australia

Australia’s government passed plain packaging legislation today but now faces a legal fight on at least two fronts as the tobacco companies step up their campaign against the law

The Senate passed the legislation earlier this month with a series of amendments that were approved by the House of Representatives today.

This means that from December next year all tobacco sold in Australia will be sold in plain, dark brown packs – with no industry logos, brand imagery, colours or promotional text.

The name of the brand of cigarettes will appear on the pack in a standard font size, colour and position.

Within hours, Philip Morris Asia said that it had served a notice of arbitration under Australia’s Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong.

"We are left with no option," said Anne Edwards, a spokesperson for Philip Morris Asia, adding that Australia’s government has ignored "serious legal issues associated with plain packaging".

The company wants the legislation to be suspended and compensation to be paid for what it describes as the loss of the company’s trade marks in Australia.

"We are confident that our legal arguments are very strong and that we will ultimately win this case," said Edwards.

The legislation was split into two Bills – Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 and Trade Marks Amendment (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Bill 2011.

The tobacco companies have consistently argued that the legislation breaches Australia’s commitments under the TRIPs Agreement, violates the country’s constitution and will make it easier for cigarette packets to be counterfeited.

Philip Morris Asia announced its intention to sue the Australian government using the Bilateral Trade Agreement with Hong Kong in June.

The company’s statement today said that its Australian subsidiary will also be pursuing claims under domestic law before the High Court of Australia.

British American Tobacco Australia said earlier this month that it intends to sue the Australian government in the High Court as soon as the legislation receives Royal Assent.

BAT claims that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to remove its property without compensation.

"In years to come plain packaging will be remembered as the legislation which wasted billions of taxpayer’s dollars, caused uncontrollable growth in organised gang activity on the black market and increased smoking rates in young people."

Click here to read all of Managing IP’s coverage of the plain packaging controversy.

more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

Counsel are eying domestic industry, concurrent PTAB proceedings and heightened scrutiny of cases before institution
Jack Daniel’s has a good chance of winning its dispute over dog toys, but SCOTUS will still want to protect free speech, predict sources
AI users and lawyers discuss why the rulebook for registering AI-generated content may create problems and needs further work
We provide a rundown of Managing IP’s news and analysis coverage from the week, and review what’s been happening elsewhere in IP
A technical effect must still be evident in the original patent filing, the EBoA said in its G2/21 decision today, March 23
Brands should not be deterred from pursuing lookalike producers, and an unfair advantage claim could be the key, say Emma Teichmann and Geoff Steward at Stobbs
Justice Mellor’s highly anticipated ruling surprised SEP owners and reassured implementers that the UK may not be so hostile after all
The England and Wales High Court's judgment comes ahead of a separate hearing concerning one of the patents-in-suit at the EPO
While the rules allow foreign firms to open local offices and offer IP services, a ban on litigation and practising Indian law could mean little will change
A New York federal court heard oral arguments this week in a copyright case pitting publishing giants against a digital library