The UK government has passed legislation enforcing the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco.  The plain packaging requirement will come into force in May 2016 after the House of Lords followed the Commons and backed the measure.

From May next year, in addition to the health warning, the packaging of cigarette and hand-rolling tobacco must be a uniform brown colour and include only a brand name in a standard size grey typeface.

Opposition and the Implications for Intellectual Property Rights

Similar provisions introduced by the Australian Government are being challenged by the major tobacco companies and it is likely that events in the UK will follow a similar path.

One of the main concerns of campaigners against the move is the effect the proposal has on the trade marks and Intellectual Property rights of the brand owners.  They argue that in effect the plain packaging requirements deprive brand owners of the Intellectual Property they use in relation to the products without compensation.

Whilst restricted to tobacco products at the moment, the progress of the plain packaging legislation and the precedent it will set will no doubt be followed with interest by the manufacturers of other consumer goods considered to be potentially dangerous or undesirable.

Trade Mark Protection from SH&P

At Stevens Hewlett & Perkins, our team of trade mark attorneys can help you to search for, register and protect your trade marks in the UK and overseas. We are happy to give advice on brand new trade mark issues, or on an existing portfolio of trade marks – helping you to make sure that your intellectual property is working hard for your business.

To find out more, and benefit from a free consultation from one of our trade mark experts, why not call us today?