Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (TPP) and corresponding regulations specify that tobacco products be packaged in a particular size box and be made of certain material. No trademark other than the brand’s name may be printed, and font, letter size, color, and other packaging aspects are specified with particularity. These measures recently withstood a contentious dispute settlement request submitted on multiple grounds by four World Trade Organization (WTO) Member countries. What does the WTO’s Panel Report in this case tell us about the extent to which a country can take measures to advance its public health initiatives without violating obligations under Article 20 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS)? What is the legal test for deciding this? To what extent can WTO Members undertake broad policy initiatives with the objective of protecting public health? Could WTO Members carry out these initiatives even when the consequence is far-reaching diminishment of branding and economic value of other Members’ trademark rights? Could the WTO Panel’s findings in this case embolden countries to take similar action with other consumer products medically proven to cause harm?
Recommended CitationCheryl Kirschner, Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Law: An Analysis of the TRIPS Article 20 Challenge at the WTO, 32 Pace Int'l L. Rev. 247 (2020)
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