Regarding the initiatives to introduce generic packaging for tobacco products in Ireland and the United Kingdom
The Lithuanian Group of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI) believes that trademark protection is one of the core intellectual property rights of industrial companies. Therefore we note, that initiatives to introduce generic (standardised) packaging for tobacco products, in Ireland and the United Kingdom, have no reasoned proof as to their effectiveness, they raise issues pertaining to their legality and compliance with international agreements, and they must not be supported at national level.
In view of the above, Lithuanian Group of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property supports joint statement of IP Associations and points to the need for regulatory solutions to ensure effective protection of intellectual property rights:
“The signatories of the this Statement, leading organisations whose aims include the safeguarding of the integrity of European Trade Mark and Design laws and the proper protection of trademarks and designs in the EU, have been following the developments on 'plain packaging’ since the adoption of the Australian legislation, imposing plain packaging requirements for tobacco products, in 2012. At the EU level, the signatories of this Statement have continuously expressed their concerns about such laws, in particular in March 2014 (http://www.ecta.org/IMG/pdf/joint_statement_plain_packaging_ie_uk_march_2014.pdf). It should be emphasised that during the revision process of the Tobacco Products Directive (adopted in March 2014) the EU Parliament and the Council, sent strong signals to the EU Commission and the EU Member States by rejecting the introduction of extreme measures against Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) such as mandatory plain packaging. It is to be noted the Dutch Health Minister has recently stated to his own Parliament, when reflecting on the issue of plain packaging, that “such a measure should be thoroughly evaluated first, particularly the effects on health and intellectual property rights."
It cannot be stated often enough, that registered trademarks, and the ‘goodwill’ created by their long use on products, are rights of property, which are to be treated like any other property. As such they are protected not only under trade mark laws (in the EU based on the Harmonization Directive) but also under the Article 1 of the First Protocol of the ECHR and Article 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The provisions of the TRIPS Agreement are of particular relevance. Although TRIPS permits measures necessary for the protection of public health, such measures must comply with other provisions, including Article 20 of TRIPS, which prohibits unjustifiable encumbrances on trade marks by 'special requirements' which are detrimental to the capability of trade marks to distinguish the products of one undertaking from those of another. Basically, plain packaging laws amount to an indirect legislative expropriation of these valuable property rights. Even where there is a need to achieve important public objectives such as health, any proposed legislation and/or policy options should not deviate from maintaining an appropriate balance with legitimate intellectual property rights, obtained in respect of lawful products.
It is most unfortunate, and indeed undesirable, that the Irish Government should be proceeding with this legislation at a time when the effectiveness of the Australian plain packaging law is at least uncertain and indeed is being seriously called into question. According to some media reports, tobacco sales volumes have increased since its introduction, reversing the trend of decline of recent years, whilst the illicit tobacco trade has also increased significantly. Even more seriously, the Australian law is currently the subject of challenges by five countries before the WTO, on the ground that it contravenes provisions of TRIPS and the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. The Government of New Zealand, which also has been contemplating plain packaging, has decided at this stage that it will not proceed until at least the challenge before the WTO is resolved.
Finally, the signatories of Statement wish to emphasise that these concerns do not only apply in respect of tobacco products. Already there have been suggestions that similar measures, as have been proposed for tobacco products, might be applied to alcoholic drinks and to other products that are considered unhealthy. To adopt any plain packaging requirements would be setting a precedent for other products.
It is understood that the announcement of 10 June is just one step in the legislative process. The Bill will have to pass through both houses of Parliament before it becomes law. On 17 June 2014, Ireland notified its draft legislation to the EU Commission and the WTO.
The signatories of this Statement call upon the Irish Government and Parliament not to proceed with the introduction of this legislation and upon the other EU Member States to express their concerns to the EU Commission and the Irish Government.”
President of AIPPI Lithuanian Group
Marius Jakulis Jason
AmCham Published a Resolution on Intellectual Property Rights in Lithuania
After a conference "Intellectual property: What Disturbs to Protect the Owners' Rights" which was held on April 25th, 2014, the American Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania in cooperation with the International Association of the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI) Lithuanian group published a resolution on intellectual property rights in Lithuania.
You can read it http://www.amcham.lt/get.php?i.7443 (in Lithuanian language).