Standardised packaging and the right of intellectual property
London, 9 December 2015: This week, the High Court will hear a series of legal challenges brought by the tobacco industry against the United Kingdom’s standardised (or “plain”) packaging regulations for tobacco products.
In March 2015, the UK government secured parliamentary approval for regulations introducing mandatory plain packaging for cigarette and rolling tobacco packets. The regulations are due to come into force in May 2016. Tobacco companies claim that this legislation is unlawful and have brought judicial review proceedings in an attempt to prevent its introduction.
Among other arguments, the companies have suggested that the standardised packaging regulations breach fundamental guarantees of property - particularly intellectual property – to be found in the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. The companies claim that they will be deprived of their intellectual property rights in trademarks, designs and other brand marks, because they will no longer be able to apply them to their tobacco products.
In an article published this month in Intellectual Property Quarterly, Jonathan Griffiths from QMUL’s School of Law considers this argument by detailed reference to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. His research demonstrates that the right of property in the European legal order has consistently been interpreted by those courts in a manner that leaves considerable flexibility for states which interfere with private interests in pursuit of significant public health goals.
Public Relations Manager (Humanities and Social Sciences)
Queen Mary University of London
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- The research is published in “’On the Back of a Cigarette Packet’: Standardised Packaging Legislation and the Tobacco Industry’s Fundamental Right to (Intellectual) Property”  Intellectual Property Quarterly.
- A pre-refereed draft is available from email@example.com.
Queen Mary University of London
Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is one of the UK’s leading universities, and one of the largest institutions in the University of London, with 20,260 students from more than 150 countries.
A member of the Russell Group, we work across the humanities and social sciences, medicine and dentistry, and science and engineering, with inspirational teaching directly informed by our research - in the most recent national assessment of the quality of research, we were placed ninth in the UK (REF 2014).
We also offer something no other university can: a stunning self-contained residential campus in London’s East End. As well as our home at Mile End, we have campuses at Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square and West Smithfield dedicated to the study of medicine, and a base for legal studies at Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
We have a rich history in London with roots in Europe’s first public hospital, St Barts; England’s first medical school, The London; one of the first colleges to provide higher education to women, Westfield College; and the Victorian philanthropic project, the People’s Palace at Mile End.
Today, as well as retaining these close connections to our local community, we are known for our international activities, and have research and teaching partnerships with leading universities around the world. This includes two very successful and long-standing joint partnerships with the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and Nanchang University.
QMUL has an annual turnover of £350m, a research income worth £100m, and generates employment and output worth £700m to the UK economy each year.