Federal Government releases draft tobacco plain packaging legislation

The Federal Government today released the exposure draft of its legislation which aims to prevent tobacco advertising and promotion on tobacco product packaging.  The draft Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 was prepared following an announcement by the Federal Government in April last year that by July 2012 all tobacco products sold in Australia would be required to be sold in plain packaging.
From an IP point of view, the Bill states that regulations made under Chapter 2 of the Bill may prohibit the use of trade marks, logos or brands.  Health Minister Nicola Roxon today stated that the Government’s intention is to “restrict tobacco industry logos, brand imagery, colours and promotional text appearing on packs.  The only thing to distinguish one brand from another will be the brand and product name in a standard colour, standard position and standard font size and style.”  The proposed text of the regulations which would mandate these restrictions has not been released.
Related provisions provide that a trade mark application must not be rejected, or a trade mark revoked or removed, because the trade mark applicant or owner is prevented by the Bill from using the mark on tobacco products or from using the mark to distinguish tobacco products.  Similarly, a registered design cannot be revoked or ordered to be subject to the grant of a licence because the registered owner has failed to make a product embodying that design in order to comply with the requirements of the Bill.
Submissions are sought on the draft Bill and accompanying consultation paper by 6 June 2011.

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