Tobacco group denounces 'Orwellian' restrictions | Cigarettes Blog

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tobacco group denounces 'Orwellian' restrictions

THE High Court hearings into the challenge against plain pack cigarettes have concluded with a tobacco industry lawyer describing the Government's defence of its measures as ''Orwellian''.
The new law excising trademarks and brand colours from cigarette packets at the end of this year has stirred anxieties in the tobacco industry about the blackout spreading worldwide.
Yesterday the New Zealand government said it planned to introduce plain packaging based on Australia's laws.
In the High Court, Gavan Griffith, QC, counsel for the makers of Camel cigarettes, alluded yesterday to George Orwell's novel 1984 - where Big Brother says ''love means hate'' - in accusing the Government of ''doublespeak'' over its edict to remove trade marks from cigarette packets.
While the plain packaging law would require the removal of trade marks from all cigarette packets, the Government has argued the prohibition on use would not weaken the companies' exclusive ownership of the trademarks.
But Dr Griffith said the plain packaging legislation established a ''fiction'' that the companies retained the rights to ownership of their registered trademarks, even though the law stopped the companies from using those trademarks.
The Commonwealth submitted the plain packaging act stated that the ''statutory assurance of exclusive use [of tobacco company trade marks] is not eroded.
''It is the freedom to use the trade marks that is reduced.''
The Commonwealth argues the law prevented ''this reduced usage undermining potential or continued registration [of trade marks] … ''
But Dr Griffith said such provisions, including the Commonwealth claim that in prohibiting the use of the trademark it had not removed an existing right to property, was empty.
''On our analysis, everything has been taken,'' he said.
Government sources are optimistic the legislation will survive the High Court case, saying the companies have failed to land a killer legal blow.
A decision on the measure may be months away.

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