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WTO ruling on plain packaging could cost food and drink industries billions

03 July 2018
This article is more than 2 years old.

In last week’s ruling, the WTO rejected a complaint brought against Australia’s regulation on plain packaging of tobacco products, dismissing concerns regarding government violation of intellectual property rights of trademark owners. The ruling establishes the principle that governments can take away the branding of a legal product if it is deemed detrimental to public health. Bodies such as Public Health England have already spoken about the possibility of introducing plain packaging on alcohol.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“The WTO decision is a major setback for the branded goods industry and opens the floodgates to similar actions being taken by governments against other product categories, like alcohol, sweet drinks, confectionery, salty snacks. It is not just about tobacco; it is about a much broader range of perfectly legal branded products that will be constrained from trading profitably and effectively. It will destroy many well-known brands that have built up huge market shares over the years. We sincerely hope that the WTO changes its mind and, on appeal, the decision is reversed.”

A recent report by Brand Finance estimated the potential value loss to businesses at close to $300 billion globally if plain packaging is extended to the beverage industry. Eight major brand-owning corporations representing the endangered industries, such as PepsiCo, Mondelez, and Heineken, were predicted to lose a total of $187 billion.

Note to Editors

See the full reaction from David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, here

See the WTO’s decision here

See the Brand Finance Plain Packaging 2017 report here

Brand Finance helped craft the internationally recognised standard on Brand Valuation – ISO 10668, and the recently approved standard on Brand Evaluation – ISO 20671.

Data compiled for the Brand Finance league tables and reports are provided for the benefit of the media and are not to be used for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

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