Do You Mind My Smoking? Plain Packaging of Cigarettes Under the TRIPS Agreement

26 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2011 Last revised: 8 Mar 2014

See all articles by Alberto Alemanno

Alberto Alemanno

HEC Paris - Tax & Law

Enrico Bonadio

City University London - The City Law School

Date Written: January 30, 2011


Plain packaging, a new tobacco control tool that is currently being considered by a growing number of countries, mandates the removal of all attractive and promotional aspects of tobacco product packages. As a result, the only authorized feature remaining would be the use of brand name, which would be displayed in a standard font, size, color and location on the package. In opposing this new strategy, the tobacco industry is particularly keen in emphasizing both the ineffectiveness of plain packaging in reducing smoking rates and its incompatibility with international trademark-related provisions. In particular, the tobacco industry as well as other regulated sectors, such as food, alcohol, and cosmetics, believe that plain packaging jeopardizes their trademark rights and particularly contravenes several trademark-related provisions as enshrined in the TRIPS Agreement and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. This article, after introducing the reader to the genesis and rationale of plain packaging within the broader context of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, offers a detailed analysis of the compatibility of this new packaging measure with the international system for trade mark protection as enshrined in the TRIPS.

Keywords: International Law, WTO Law, TRIPS, Trademarks, Plain Packaging, Tobacco Control, Lifestyle Risk

JEL Classification: K1, K2, K20, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Alemanno, Alberto and Bonadio, Enrico, Do You Mind My Smoking? Plain Packaging of Cigarettes Under the TRIPS Agreement (January 30, 2011). John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law, Vol. 10, No. 3, 2011. Available at SSRN:

Alberto Alemanno (Contact Author)

HEC Paris - Tax & Law ( email )

1 rue de la Libération
Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351

Enrico Bonadio

City University London - The City Law School ( email )

London, EC1V OHB
United Kingdom


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