Plain Packaging of Cigarettes Will Not Reach Goals
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 4:52 pm | By Katerina Bricker

Cigarette branding may be coming to an end in Scotland and the UK, as government officials seek to enact plain packaging regulations. Right now Australia is set to become the first country to introduce plain packages in 2012 and the European Union is considering a ban. These drastic measures are taking place due to the fact that they believe it will help decrease cigarette usage in their countries, as well as the go-to feel good fallacy that “it’s for the children.”

As we have mentioned before this attacks intellectual property rights to the core. Last week, the Property Rights Alliance submitted comments to the European Commission regarding the possible revision of the Tobacco Products Directive. Click, HERE if you wish to read the full letter. Essentially, enacting plain packaging rules halts tobacco companies from exercising their intellectual property rights. If the EU directive is enacted it will forbid companies from displaying their trademarks and thereby not allowing them to differentiate their products on the basis of their trademark. This strikes at the core principals of corporate identity and consumer information that European businesses are based upon.
Here is a list of the effects of the possible revision from PRA’s comments:
  1. No reduction in smoking rates: There is no evidence whatsoever to demonstrate that the implementation of plain packaging will lead to any decrease in the total quantity of alcohol products sold. Brand substitution is the only effect.
  2. Cheaper cigarette prices: Since companies will not have the ability to compete on the basis of logo/trademark differentiation, consumers will only have the ability differentiate products based on pricing.
  3. Increased counterfeiting: By preventing the brands to display their trademarks on their tobacco products it allows a greater threat for their products to be faked and therefore could have detrimental effects to consumers.
  4. Threaten jobs: At a time of economic downturn this could cost jobs to many hard working families such as, graphic designers and paper producers.
Additionally, plain packaging rules will breach the EU’s legal obligations in relation to international trade and European law. The possible revision would fail to do what it is put in place to do and at the same time violate intellectual property rights granted to all. This is counterproductive and should not reach fruition.

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PRA to Senator Reid: Just Say No to Omnibus!
Friday, December 17, 2010 9:38 am | By Cassandra Baker

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has too much to do in too little time. At least, that’s the excuse he’s giving for possibly keeping the Senate in session through Christmas and ram-rodding multiple omnibus bills.

It is rumored that Senator Reid may consider, among other pieces of potentially controversial legislation, a public lands omnibus that would restrict physical property rights and increase government regulation of private property. Not only will an omnibus surely overstep the bounds of federal power once again, it will be impossible to know exactly what will be in the massive bill.

According to reports, the omnibus could include over 60 public land bills and at least 21 waterways and wildlife bills that would forbid any sort of development on large areas of land in the name of conservation. Also troubling is the inclusion of the Chesapeake Bay restoration bill that would grant the EPA unprecedented control over local land use. PRA's statement against passage of a public lands omnibus can be found here.

The federal government currently has control of over 650 million acres, much of which are in disarray due to maintenance backlogs and the inability for private citizens to regain control of those lands. A public lands omnibus would force American taxpayers to fund the purchase of land that could be better utilized in the private sector and must be opposed.

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Private Solutions to Stop Fake Drugs
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 4:07 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

Yesterday, in a stunning announcement, Google and Microsoft decided to agree on something. What might that be, you ask? Stopping the online sale of counterfeit drugs.

In a White House forum on intellectual property, IP Enforcement Coordinator, Victoria Espinel, announced the creation of an industry-led effort to target rogue sites that specialize in peddling counterfeit pharmaceuticals and stop them from doing business. Besides Microsoft and Google, companies also included in the coalition are Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Yahoo, GoDaddy, Neustar, PayPal, and eNom.

We have often written on this site about the detrimental effects of counterfeiting to the economy, yet often overshadowed is the significant health and safety threat. Tainted pharmaceuticals, substandard airplane parts, and contaminated toothpaste continue to cause serious harm to lives around the world. The trade in counterfeit medicines has skyrocketed in recent years. According to Markmonitor, a firm that works with companies on brand protection, sales of counterfeit goods via the internet will reach $135 billion this year. The WHO estimates that counterfeit drugs constitute up to 25% of the total medicine supply in less developed countries. These medicines could either contain no active ingredients, very little active ingredients that will do nothing to fight the disease and may even make it more resistant to treatment, or in the worst case scenario the counterfeit could contain toxic materials. The International Policy Network estimates that around 700,000 deaths per year from only malaria and tuberculosis are attributable to fake drugs.

It is great to see this broad coalition of businesses coming together to offer private solutions to stop the spread of counterfeits and hopefully we will see more of this kind of collaborative effort in the future to combat intellectual property theft.

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