Final reminder: this coming Thursday is the day of CLT's "Intellectual Property and the Digital Entertainment Industry" conference. If you've been vacillating about whether to register, be brave -- take the plunge! Click here for further details and registration.
|Beware the killer biscuit|
ACG represents the interests of all industry sectors where counterfeiting is an issue (including tobacco), and the right to use trade marks is absolutely key. Our concern here is on a general level and is two-fold - the potential impact on legitimate IP rights, and the use of undesirable policy-making methods, unsupported by objective evidence or by a proper risk/benefit assessment.
Smoking is a threat to public health not because of too much branding, or insufficient health warnings, nor because the packaging is too attractive or certain types of cigarette could be regarded as too tasty or stylish (menthol or slims, for example, which the TPD seeks to ban).
The real factors which influence the young to take it up are also well-documented throughout Europe, and packaging is not one of them. Peer pressure, parental influence, social and cultural norms, price and access are all identified as causal factors, but packaging and product shape are never cited (see for example the UK's National Health Service study Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England - 2010).
It needs concerted investment (a) in education to discourage young people from take-up and (b) in providing proper support for existing smokers to quit.
The Commission is also taking the opportunity to try and grab some unfettered powers for itself in the process, in 19 areas, by which it can adopt yet further public health motivated regulation without the proper oversight of the European Council and Parliament.
If adopted, these measures would:
* undermine the legal protection for IP and other fundamental rightsIf the practice of trying to legislate against IP rights in order to address unrelated health (or other) issues continues to gather momentum, other health-sensitive products, such as foodstuffs, will soon become fresh targets for such attempts - for example, alcoholic drinks are already in the frame for packaging changes in the UK. Chocolate biscuits may be next ...
* interfere to an excessive extent with legitimate trade
* increase the threat to public health e.g. from counterfeiting
* further fund organised crime
So we really don't think it's a very good idea!
IP Factor, has now welcomed his 300,000th visitor. Well done, Michael! "Gene Patents -- a Win for All" is the improbable title of this note by Sarah Matheson, Trevor Davies and Yan-Lin Lee on the jiplp weblog, on the litigation between Cancer Voices Australia and Myriad over the latter's patent for BRCA1. Trade mark buffs wondering whether land-locked Swiss consumers generally regard KALMAR as a squid or as a sad town in Sweden (no tourist appeal or international airport) need look no further than Mark Schweizer's Class 46 post here for the answer to this poser.
|One of these is the instrument of accession --- but which?|