Cigarette giants in High Court battle

The High Court has started hearing the claims by British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International against the Australian government’s plain packaging laws.

Most of the seven justices at the Canberra hearing questioned the tobacco companies’ claims that the plain-packaging legislation impinged on their property rights without just compensation, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Justice Susan Crennan questioned how their trademark could be acquired when they were still able to use their name on cigarette packets.

Chief Justice Robert French said the Commonwealth did not have a right to use the companies’ trademarks as a result of the world-first legislation, which passed parliament in November.

But senior counsel for British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International said the legislation deprived the companies’ trademarks of any value.

The three-day hearing centres on a requirement for olive-green cigarette packaging with graphic health warnings to be introduced late this year – if the new law survives the High Court challenge.


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