PM straining at the bit over brand protection dispute with Australia

    Philip Morris Asia (PMA) is keen to get to the core of its dispute with the Australian government over the issue of standardized tobacco packaging.

    In a note posted on its website, the company reported that the tribunal assigned to hear PMA’s challenge to Australia’s plain packaging law yesterday decided to divide the proceedings in the case into two phases—one to decide certain questions related to jurisdiction and a second to hear the arguments at the core of the case.

    “Australia’s plain packaging law entails the destruction of brands,” said Philip Morris International’s vice president, communications, Julie Soderlund, in commenting on the tribunal’s decision.

    “It is evident that brands are core to consumers’ understanding of the intrinsic characteristics of a product and of their ability to differentiate. Brands drive the creativity and innovation that propel economies. Building a brand is a long-term, significant investment that international law protects from arbitrary government action of exactly the sort at the heart of our claim.

    “Today, the tribunal decided it would be efficient to hear some of Australia’s objections to the tribunal’s jurisdiction before moving to the core issues in the case. We respect the tribunal’s view on which is the most efficient way to proceed.

    “We are eager to move past preliminary questions to a hearing during which we will show that Australia breached its promises to protect investments—promises that it has made in over 20 treaties and through its long history of enforcing strong trademark laws and fair regulatory processes.”