British American Tobacco (BAT), Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris International (PMI) and Japan Tobacco International have geared up to fight together against the UK government in the court over plain packaging for cigarettes.
The companies say it violates EU law as the companies can use trademarks in Europe, but not in the UK. They also claim that the plain packaging law prevents the free movement of goods.In their lawsuits filed in May this year, BAT and PMI claimed that the new regulation directly impacts their trademarks and infringes World Trade Organisation rules with respect to international trade.
BAT corporate & regulatory affairs director Jerome Abelman previously said: “This legislation is a case of the UK Government taking property from a UK business without paying for it. That is illegal under both UK and European law.
“Legal action is not something we want to undertake, nor is it something we enter into lightly – but the UK Government has left us with no other choice after running what can only be described as a flawed consultation process. Any business that has property taken away from it by the state would inevitably want to challenge and seek compensation.”
Japan Tobacco, in a lawsuit that it separately filed in May, claimed that Ireland cannot implement plain packaging as it could prevent trade between member states.
The firms have joined hands to argue that the plain packaging directive was given without considering the effects of a similar ban in Australia, as reported by City A.M.
The European Court of Justice is to give preliminary judgement in BAT and PMI case on 23 December this year, Irish Examiner reported.
When put into effect in May next year, the new packaging standard will require companies to sell cigarettes in standardized, unbranded packaging.
Under the proposed law, the companies must ban all forms of branding on the packets, including logos and colors.
The products must have a uniform packaging with graphic health warnings.