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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The start of cigarrette brand restrictions in Indonesia

Tobacco regulations are arriving in Indonesia. Our neighbour Australia is debating plain packaging, with a challenge in the High Court under way to enforce no branding at all on cigarette packs. A WTO complaint against Australia has been filed over the plain packaging rules too.
Now Indonesia plans in a new regulation to ban use of the words LIGHT, MILD etc on tobacco packs, on the basis that these words influence consumers to believe such products are better for you. Indonesia has a massive domestic tobacco industry which may object to this. The regulation is currently with the president for signature.
There are some technical IP questions here. What does that mean for trademarks such as MARLBORO LIGHT?
Although IP is not exactly the highest profile policy, IP holders in Indonesia and elsewhere express the concern that this is the start of the removal of branding from any product harmful to your health. Will restrictions appear on alcohol products or other products which have any risk associated with them next?  Then once all the products have plain packaging, arent we back to the same position as now?   

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