by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 7th 2011 8:53am
british american tobacco
A bunch of folks sent in this bizarre trademark lawsuit in Australia, where tobacco giant British American Tobacco is suing Australian importer Trojan for trademark infringement. Where it gets bizarre is in what BAT claims is infringing on its trademark: it's claiming that since the mandatory health warning placed on cigar packages covers part of BAT's logo, it's trademark infringement. Think about that for a second. One of the readers who sent this in, Bruce, points us to a little bit of background as well. Apparently, Australia has a new rule coming into effect that says all such products must soon be offered in plain packages -- and some lobbyists in support of the tobacco companies have been claiming that plain packages violate trademark, and go against Australia's treaty obligations -- including its free trade agreement with the US. For years, we've noted that when lobbyists break out the "international obligations" claim, you know that they're really full of it, but this seems especially ridiculous. It's difficult to see how this is anything more than a massive twisting of trademark law.
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