Friday, 31 January 2014

Harms on plain paper packaging - the law of unintended consequences

In a typically erudite piece, Louis Harms has published an examination of the probable effect of anticipated plain packaging laws in Pretoria University Law Press Journal, De Jure.

He describes plain packaging as a legislative threat that will result in "unintended consequences" making the case, quite convincingly, that plain paper packaging will lead to more counterfeiting and smuggling.

"On the horizon looms a potential legislative threat to trademark law in the form of plain packaging legislation. This type of legislation typically requires that tobacco products be sold in prescribed packaging of this kind.

As appears from the illustration, the trademark may only be in the font and bland colour as indicated by the word “brand”. Such limitation, one may safely assume, will be introduced through either special legislation or an amendment to health-related laws, and not by means of an amendment to the Trademarks Act. It will begin with tobacco products but there is a real likelihood that it will spread to other products."

The entire article can be located here. For more on RSA's reaction to the intended changes in legislature click here.

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