Anti-smoking watchdogs: Ban 'lite' trademarks

The use of such terms conveys the false impression that some types of cigarettes are less deadly than others.

October 9, 2006 22:16
2 minute read.
Anti-smoking watchdogs: Ban 'lite' trademarks

light smoking great 88. (photo credit: )


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The Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking has asked the Justice Ministry's trademark registrar, Meir Noam, to strike out all the trademarks that contain names like "lite," "light," mild and similar titles from the official registry so they cannot be used to describe any tobacco products. Attorney Amos Hausner, chairman of the council, told the registrar that these terms are highly misleading and that almost two years ago, the commissioner of consumer protection, attorney Yitzhak Kimhi, issued an order barring tobacco manufacturers and importers from using the terms "lite," "ultra-lite," "mild," "light," "lights" and any other terms that can make one type of cigarette appear to be less dangerous than another or to have any "health benefits." The use of such terms conveys the false impression that some types of cigarettes are less deadly than others. The existence of such trademarks and their possible use, said Hausner, can inherently defraud the consumer into believing in the "health benefits" of these brands. He cited a 1986 Supreme Court case that concluded that the term "lights" implies cigarettes with less nicotine. Last year, a new brand of Philip Morris cigarettes called Parliament Super Slims was promoted, and the Israel Cancer Association (ICA) demanded it be barred from sale in Israel because the name gave the wrong impression that smoking them promotes weight loss and that their deadly effects are less harmful because the cigarettes are "slimmer." Super Slims were advertised by the Eliashar Tobacco Distribution Company, which is the Israeli importer of Philip Morris cigarettes. The ICA noted that the term "Super Slims" and others like it have been prohibited in European and other countries that have ratified and implemented the World Health Organization's Tobacco Framework Convention. Since them, the term "slims" has not been used to describe tobacco products in Israel. Asked why it was important for the trademarks to be rescinded, Hausner explained: "This is the completion of the official consumer protection order, as it will bar the possibility of using these terms to sell and advertise tobacco products. Trademarks are officially issued by the Justice Ministry registrar according to classes. Such an action is important, because it eliminates 'lite' and similar terms from the class of tobacco, so they are no longer connected to intellectual property. This means that tobacco companies cannot - in actual practice and not just legally - trick people about 'lite.' People will no longer be exposed to the misleading information. The term can, however, continue to be used for other classes of goods, such as food products." Hausner added that Israel is among the most advanced countries in the world regarding prohibition of misleading terms such as "lite." While the European community also bars this now, the US does not. "Eliminating the trademark for 'lite' can serve as a good precedent for the EC," Hausner added.

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