Plain Packaging in Australia: Implications for Trademark Rights under the TRIPS Agreement and the Paris Convention

AutorAndrew Mitchell / Mariela Maidana-Eletti
− 295 −
Anuario Andino de Derechos Intelectuales.
Año X - N.º 10. Lima, 2014
Plain Packaging in Australia: Implications for
Trademark Rights under the TRIPS Agreement
and the Paris Convention1
Summary: I. An Introduction to Australia’s Plain Packaging Scheme. II. Plain Packaging and the
Scope of Protection for Trademark Rights under Article 15.4 TRIPS and Article 6 quinquies Paris
Convention. III. Plain Packaging and the Rights conferred to Trademark Owners under Article 16.1
TRIPS. IV. Plain Packaging as a Limited Exception under Article 17 of the TRIPS Agreement. V.
Plain Packaging as a Special Requirement under Article 20 TRIPS. VI. Conclusion.
As other forms of advertising have been restricted, packaging has become an in-
creasingly important way for the tobacco industry to attract new smokers. As part of its
efforts to reduce smoking and its harmful effects, Australia became the first country to
require standardised packaging for tobacco products (referred to as plain packaging).4
Predictably, this drew a strong response from the tobacco industry, which has launched
or funded5 a series of challenges to Australia’s health measure. One arena for these legal
challenges is the World Trade Organization (WTO).6 The WTO complaints concerns
1 This article draws on previous work of Andrew Mitchell in: TANIA VOON & ANDREW MITCHELL, ‘Implica-
tions of WTO law for plain packaging of tobacco products’ in TANIA VOON, ANDREW MITCHELL, JONATHAN
LIBERMAN & GLYN AY RES (eds), Public Health and Plain Packaging of Cigarette (Edward Elgar, 2012);
ANDREW MITCHELL & TANIA VOON, Face Off: Assessing WTO Challenges to Australia’s Plain Packaging
(2011) Public Law Review 218. The authors would like to thank Suzanne Zhou for her comments on an
earlier draft.
2 Andrew Mitchell, PhD (Cambridge), LLM (Harvard), Grad Dip Intl L, LLB (Hons), BCom (Hons) (Mel-
bourne); Professor, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne; Director, Global Economic
Law Network.
3 Mariela Maidana-Eletti, LL.M. (Amsterdam), MLaw (Lucerne), BLaw (Madrid), PhD Candidate, University
of Lucerne, School of Law; Visiting Fellow, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne.
4 Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (Cth) [hereinafter: Plain Packaging Act].
6 As of 10 March 2014, Panels have been established, but not composed, to hear the complaints brought
by Ukraine (DS 434) and Honduras (DS 435). Requests for consultations have been made by Indonesia
(DS 467), Cuba (DS 458) and the Dominican Republic (DS 441). The tobacco industry also unsuccessfully

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