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Australian court OKs logo ban on cigarette packs
CANBERRA—Australia’s highest court upheld the world’s toughest law on cigarette promotion early today despite protests from tobacco companies that argued the value of their trademarks will be destroyed under new rules that will strip all logos from cigarette packs. The decision by the High Court means that, starting in December, tobacco companies will no longer be able to display their distinctive colors, brand designs and logos on cigarette packs.
The packs will instead come in a uniformly-drab shade of olive and feature graphic health warnings and images of cancer-riddled mouths and blinded eyeballs. The government hopes the new packs will make smoking as unglamorous as possible. British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International are worried that the law will set a global precedent that could slash billions of dollars from the values of their brands.
They challenged the new rules on the grounds that they violate intellectual property rights and devalue their trademarks. The cigarette makers argued that the government would unfairly benefit from the law by using cigarette packs as a platform to promote its own message, without compensating the tobacco companies. Australia’s constitution says the government can only acquire the property of others on “just terms.” The court withheld reasons for the judgment early today which will be released later this year.