We were disappointed when we read that the Australian High Court violated the intellectual property rights of the tobacco makers by preventing the tobacco makers from displaying company trademarks on the packs of cigarettes sold in Australia. This law was passed last year by Australia’s Parliament and upheld by the Australian High Court on August 15th. We were not happy about this because this constitutes an expropriation of tobacco maker trademarks, but would be a pure and simple confiscation of the core of the tobacco maker businesses.

Philip Morris International (PM) is fighting this by serving a notice of claim on the Australian government stating its intention to take Australia to international arbitration pursuant to the Hong Kong-Australia Bilateral Investment Treaty regarding plain packaging for tobacco products. The parties were not able to reach an amicable settlement, so formal arbitration proceedings under the Investment Treaty were initiated against the Australian government on November 21, 2011. In the arbitration, Philip Morris Asia Limited is seeking substantial compensation from the Australian government for its forcible acquisition of Philip Morris Limited’s intellectual property.

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