International Coalition Letter against #PlainPackaging To the World Health Organization
Washington, DC– Today, May 31st, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates NO Tobacco Day and the theme this year is Plain Packaging, which means the complete removal of any type of brand and trademark on cigarette packets. The Austrian Economics Center is proud to join 46 free market organizations from 30 countries in a letter to Dr. Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun Director General of the WHO expressing its strong opposition to plain packaging and its support for all types of IP. Instead of weakening the rights of innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs, policymakers should reflect on the integral role IP rights play in economic, technological, and cultural leadership. As such, governments and NGOs should focus on preserving and enhancing IP rights by fostering solutions to widespread IP theft.
The letter articulates a framework and suggests guidelines regarding intellectual property. As these issues are discussed in various forums around the world, these guidelines will be a helpful resource.
The letter affirms:
The right to own property is a fundamental human right.
Creating an environment where property rights are protected and legally enforced contributes to social and economic growth and stability.
The importance of secure intellectual property rights is recognized in international treaties and conventions.
Various studies and indexes show that there is a strong positive correlation between a country’s robust intellectual property rights enforcement and GDP per capita.
Plain packaging prohibits the use of trademarks and therefore significantly erodes the value of this intellectual property – a dangerous precedent to set for commerce in general.
Data suggests that the plain packaging efforts may not be successful.
Trademarks, brands, and logos are a critical way to provide brand information to consumers which is an assurance that they are purchasing a legitimate, quality product.
By not allowing companies to use their trademarks, plain packaging forces consumers to make uninformed decisions and in many cases puts them in danger by forcing them to enter the illicit “black” market in search of goods.
Weakening IPR is not only detrimental to the economy, but it can also place the public’s health and safety at risk.
The letter concludes by stating:
We urge governments around the world to focus on strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights instead of damaging them by pursuing detrimental trademark infringement policies such “plain packaging”.
The AEC’s fundamental goal is to promote a free, responsible and prosperous society. Through education and improving public understanding of key economic questions, the AEC promotes the idea of a free market economy and the ideal of a free society.