Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Tobacco branding rules hit trademarks in Indonesia


They have been long coming but appeared over the New Year. See here for a previous report on these rules, here for parallel rules in Thailand and here for a global summary of the issues surrounding the attack on trademarks worldwide, stemming from the tobacco packaging attack in Australia.

The new Regulation aims to improve public health by controlling tobacco products, specifically cigarette promotion, distribution, and packaging by targeting several areas -
- misleading promotional terms are prohibited

- use of descriptors like MILD, SLIM, LIGHT, but there are a maze of rules on these, stemming from the fact that as a non English speaking nation, many descriptors are also part of registered trademarks especially by local companies, such as STAR MILD (pictured).

- 40% of packs must be used for pictorial health warnings, but tobacco companies have an 18 month window to comply.
- Sponsorship restrictions are clarified

Indonesia is schizophrenic over tobacco since it is a major industry with 6 million employees, due especially to the unique clove kretek cigarette industry. Indonesia has even supported Ukraine's WTO complaint against Australia over its harsh plain packaging rules. Whether these two different approaches within the government can ever be reconciled is hard to see.

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