A worldwide precedent was set on Wednesday by Australia’s High Court as it upheld a decision to legally ban all brand logos and designs from cigarette packaging beginning this December. The hearing resulted in an outpouring of protests from big tobacco firms as they argued their intellectual property rights would be violated and their trademarks destroyed. This is bad news for Japan Tobacco, which just last week unveiled a rebranding of it flagship Mild Seven cigarettes under the new name of Mevius, complete with a uniform packaging design across all markets.
The results of the High Court’s decision mean that beginning in December in Australia, all cigarette packs will come in a single, plain shade of olive, with all brand logos, colors, and designs prohibited and replaced with manufacturer’s names printed in a small, simple font. And in order to really try to turn people away from smoking, in addition to health warning graphics there will be pictures of cancer-riddled mouths and blinded eyeballs on the packages.
British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco, and Japan Tobacco are among the cigarette makers that are now fearing cuts in their billions of dollars values. They tried to argue that the Australian government’s actions were unconstitutional, but the court countered that it withheld the rights to regulate cigarettes just as it did with other products that were harmful to human health. In addition, the Australian constitution gives the government the permission to acquire other’s property on “just terms.”
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