Imperial Tobacco challenges Australia plain packaging laws

By REUTERS
December 6, 2011 06:46

 
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CANBERRA - Imperial Tobacco launched a legal challenge in Australia's High Court on Tuesday against new laws forcing tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging from next year, becoming the third tobacco giant to do so.

The laws, past by parliament last month, are being watched closely by governments in Europe, Canada and New Zealand, who see Australia as a test case. They have angered tobacco firms who fear they may set a global precedent and infringe on trademark rights.

"The High Court of Australia will now determine claims which include the validity of these unprecedented laws. Unchallenged, the Australian government would otherwise be able to simply take the intellectual property of legal entities," Imperial Tobacco Australia General Manager Melvin Ruigrok said in a statement.

British American Tobacco launched a separate High Court challenge last week, while Philip Morris launched international action last month through its office in Hong Kong.

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