Australia – certain measures concerning trademarks, geographical indications and other plain packaging requirements, applicable to tobacco products and packaging

Request for consultations by Cuba

World Trade Organization

WT/DS458/1, G/L/1026, P/D/33, G/TBT/D/43

7 May 2013

(13-2417)

Original: English

The following communication, dated 3 May 2013, from the delegation of Cuba to the delegation of Australia and to the Chairperson of the Dispute Settlement Body, is circulated in accordance with Article 4.4 of the DSU.

The Republic of Cuba hereby requests consultations with the Government of Australia pursuant to Article 4 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes, Article XXII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 ("GATT 1994"), Article 64.1 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ("TRIPS Agreement'), and Article 14.1 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade ("TBT Agreement").

A. Measures at issue

The measures at issue are the following:

The Plain Packaging Measures regulate the appearance and form of retail packaging used in connection with sales of cigars, cigarettes and other tobacco products. They also regulate the appearance and form of the tobacco products themselves.

With respect to the retail packaging of tobacco products, the Plain Packaging Measures:

  1. prohibit the display of signs and information other than (1) a brand, business or company name, (2) a variant name and (3) the basic information specified in Division 2.3 of the Regulations1;
  2. prescribe that brand, business, company and variant names must be displayed in a uniform typeface, font, size, case, colour and placement;
  3. mandate the use of uniform colours for outer surfaces and inner linings as well as the use of a matt finish;
  4. constrain the dimensions and forms that packaging (such as cigar tubes, primary packaging for cigars, cigarette packs and cigarette cartons) may assume; and
  5. regulate the use of wrappers, inserts and onserts.

With respect to the appearance and form of cigar bands and cigars, the Plain Packaging Measures:

  1. prohibit the display of signs and information on cigar bands other than: (1) a brand, business or company name, (2) a variant name, (3) country of origin information and (4) an alphanumeric code.
  2. prescribe that signs and information must be displayed on cigar bands in a uniform typeface, font, size, case, colour and placement;
  3. mandate the use of a uniform colour for cigar bands (Pantone 448C); and
  4. require the use of a single cigar band.

With respect to the appearance and form of cigarettes, the Plain Packaging Measures:

  1. prohibit the display of signs and information other than an alphanumeric code;
  2. provide that paper casings must be white, or white with an imitation cork tip; and
  3. provide that filter tips must be white.

B. Legal basis of the complaint

Australia's Plain Packaging Measures appear to be inconsistent with its obligations under the following provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, the TBT Agreement and the GATT 1994:

Cuba reserves the right to raise additional claims or matters during the course of consultations, and in any future request for panel proceedings.

Cuba looks forward to Australia's response to this request, and to fixing a mutual acceptable date for consultations.