DISPUTE SETTLEMENT

DS: Australia — Certain Measures Concerning Trademarks, Geographical Indications and Other Plain Packaging Requirements Applicable to Tobacco Products and Packaging

This summary has been prepared by the Secretariat under its own responsibility. The summary is for general information only and is not intended to affect the rights and obligations of Members.

  

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Current status

 

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Key facts

Short title:
Complainant:
Respondent:
Third Parties:
Agreements cited:
(as cited in request for consultations)
Request for Consultations received:

  

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Latest document

  

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Summary of the dispute to date

The summary below was up-to-date at

Consultations

Complaint by Honduras. (See also DS434, DS441, DS458 and DS467)

On 4 April 2012, Honduras requested consultations with Australia concerning certain Australian laws and regulations that impose trademark restrictions and other plain packaging requirements on tobacco products and packaging.

Honduras challenges the following measures:

  • An Act to discourage the use of tobacco products, and for related purposes, Australia's Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011, and its implementing regulations;
     
  • the Trade Marks Amendment (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Act 2011; and
     
  • any amendments, extensions, related instruments or practices.

Honduras claims that Australia's measures appear to be inconsistent with Australia's obligations under:

  • Articles 2.1, 3.1, 15.4, 16.1, 20, 22.2(b) and 24.3 of the TRIPS Agreement;
     
  • Article 2.1 and 2.2 of the TBT Agreement; and
     
  • Article III:4 of the GATT 1994.

On 11 April 2012, Brazil requested to join the consultations.  On 12 April 2012, Guatemala and Nicaragua requested to join the consultations.  On 16 April 2012, New Zealand and Zimbabwe requested to join the consultations.  On 18 April 2012, the European Union, Ukraine and Uruguay requested to join the consultations.  On 19 April 2012, Canada and El Salvador requested to join the consultations.  On 20 April 2012, Indonesia, Norway and the Philippines requested to join the consultations.  Subsequently, Australia informed the DSB that it had accepted the requests of Brazil, Canada, El Salvador, the European Union, Guatemala, Indonesia, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe to join the consultations.

On 15 October 2012, Honduras requested the establishment of a panel.  At its meeting on 19 November 2012, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel.

 

Panel and Appellate Body proceedings

At its meeting on 25 September 2013, the DSB established a panel. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Ukraine, the United States, Uruguay and Zimbabwe reserved their third-party rights. Subsequently, Ecuador, Guatemala, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Turkey and Zambia reserved their third-party rights.

On 26 March 2014, Australia requested the Director-General to compose the panel. On 5 May 2014, the Director-General composed the panel. On 10 October 2014, the Chair of the panel informed the DSB that the panel expected to issue its final report to the parties not before the first half of 2016, in accordance with the timetable adopted by the panel on 17 June 2014 on the basis of a draft timetable proposed by the parties. On 29 June 2016, the Chair of the panel informed the DSB that due to the complexity of the dispute, the panel expected to issue its final report to the parties not before the end of 2016. On 1 December 2016, the Chair of the panel informed the DSB that in light of the complexity of the legal and factual issues that arise in this dispute, the panel expected to issue its final report to the parties not before May 2017.

 

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