Tobacco companies launch multi-billion compensation claims over UK plain packaging law

On 22 May Philip Morris Intl. and British American Tobacco launched legal claims against the British Government for losses as a result of the planned introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

It is thought the companies will argue that forcing them to use plain packaging amounts to deprivation of a highly valuable intellectual property and that the law breaches EU law.

Imperial Tobacco Group and Japan Tobacco Intl. have previously said they would also take legal action but have not yet filed suits.

The UK Department of Health responded saying that it refuses to be "held to ransom by the tobacco industry".

 

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Article
22 May 2015

If the law favours Big Tobacco over taxpayers, then the law is a disgrace

Author: Owen Jones, Guardian (UK)

Do property rights trump the health, wellbeing and lives of millions of people? Around 100,000 Britons die of smoking-related illnesses every year: from cancer to heart disease. Worldwide, the figure is a startling 6 million annually...[T]here’s rightly consensus that we should discourage people from taking up the habit, and inform consumers of the dire health implications. One such measure is the introduction of plain cigarette packaging...But now the tobacco companies are fighting back, suing the government for up to £11bn on the basis that it would constitute “deprivation of a highly valuable intellectual property”. This is an absurd example of how the law values property over people. Our government is democratically elected. Yes, that rightly means there have to be checks and balances, and policies must abide by the existing framework of the law. But if the law enables tobacco companies to extort £11bn from the government...then the law is wrong. If the law does not value people’s lives and wellbeing over the rights of tobacco companies to make profit from cancer sticks, then the law is morally bankrupt....This legal action should be treated as a test. Do we allow major corporations...to have more rights in law than people’s lives? 

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Article
22 May 2015

Philip Morris, British American Tobacco Challenges U.K. Cigarette-Packaging Order

Author: Peter Evans, Wall Street Journal

Two of the world’s biggest tobacco companies have filed lawsuits challenging the U.K. government over its plans to ban branding on cigarette packs. Philip Morris International Inc. and British American Tobacco PLC filed separate suits with the High Court in London on Friday. Both companies claimed the “plain packaging” law—which will come into effect next year—violates U.K. and European law....Imperial Tobacco Group PLC and Japan Tobacco International Inc.—which together control around 85% of sales in the U.K.—have previously said they would take legal action, although lawsuits are yet to be filed.

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Article
22 May 2015

Tobacco firms challenge plain packaging law

Author: BBC

Two of the world's biggest tobacco companies have challenged the legality of the UK government's plain packaging regulations.British American Tobacco and Philip Morris filed legal objections at the High Court in London on Friday. They claim that the new rules are illegal because they take away their trademark intellectual property. The Department of Health has responded saying that it refuses to be "held to ransom by the tobacco industry". If successful, the tobacco companies may secure huge payouts from the British government.

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Article
21 May 2015

Tobacco companies prepare multi-billion compensation claims over UK plain packaging

Author: John Bingham, Telegraph (UK)

Tobacco companies are preparing to launch what could be one of the biggest ever legal claims against the British Government for losses as a result of the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes. They are expected to begin lodging papers at the High Court as early as Friday, seeking a multi-billion compensation payout for being stripped of the right to use instantly recognisable brands. Lawyers will argue that forcing them to use entirely unbranded packaging would amount to deprivation of a highly valuable intellectual property...industry analysts have suggested the combined value of the industry in the UK could be as much as £11 billion...Philip Morris International, the company behind Marlboro cigarettes, is likely to be among the first to lodge papers with most of the major tobacco companies following soon after. Lawyers for the companies are expected to base their claim around a legal opinion drawn up by Lord Hoffmann, the former senior Appeal Court judge, which concludes that banning the use of branding on cigarette packaging altogether could be a breach of trademark law...MPs approved new legislation introducing plain packaging in March...The change could come into effect next May...Supporters of the change argued strongly that new unbranded packaging bearing large and graphic health warnings would help discourage younger people from taking up smoking, with major health benefits for the country.

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