I’ve always been a bit puzzled how governments can erase product brands, and replace them with its own messages. Other people think the same:
In a note to investors in tobacco stocks Exane BNP Paribas said it had taken legal advice on the potential arguments which could be used to seek compensation if plain packaging cannot be blocked altogether by big tobacco companies.
“The strongest of the legal arguments, in our view, surrounds deprivation’ of intellectual property,” it said.
It said the European Convention on Human Rights and Charter says: “No-one may be deprived of his or her possessions, except in the public interest and under conditions provided for by law, subject to fair compensation being paid in good time for their loss . . . Intellectual property shall be protected.”
Exane BNP Paribas said its understanding of the law was that “member states can take property in the public interest but this must be in exchange for fair compensation.” Trademarks it said were considered to be property.
“Thus if plain packaging meets this criteria the UK or French/Irish government would need to pay fair compensation to the tobacco industry,” Exane BNP Paribas concluded.
Not just in the EU. but also Australia:
Indonesia was recently granted permission by the World Trade Organization to challenge Australia’s plain packaging law, making Indonesia the fifth country granted permission to challenge Australia’s controversial law. Since December of 2012, cigarette packs have been uniform consisting of green packaging, with white labels. However, while attempts by the Australian government to curb the use of cigarettes are noble, the law breaches trade and intellectual property regulations.
I don’t really see why similar arguments shouldn’t apply to government health warnings on products. If they succeed in reducing consumption, should producers be compensated for their loss?
Lords challenge No 10 to prove value of public behaviour ‘nudge’ unit
To my eyes, the real question is whether a ‘nudge unit’ is at all compatible with freedom and democracy, not whether it has ‘value’.