WASHINGTON, LONDON and BRUSSELS, April 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue, the Emergency Committee for American Trade, the National Association of Manufacturers, the United States Council for International Business and the National Foreign Trade Council issued the following statement in light of the U.K. announcement that it was pursuing a public consultation regarding plain packaging for tobacco products:
"We believe it is important to make clear our serious concerns with the prospect that the U.K. government may mandate the destruction of an industry's legitimate trademark protection and branding - rights long protected under law and treaties. We are troubled that the U.K. government is considering curtailing intellectual property rights (IP) and branding in this fashion, especially when proven effective public health measures that do not bring such serious unintended consequences exist. We would also point out that protecting IP and advancing public health are not at odds with each other, and by examining the prospect of eliminating IP rights and branding in this way the U.K. government is sending both a troubling signal to those concerned with IP erosion globally and presenting a false choice. The rule of law and legal certainty are not just very important for the business community. They are vital to ensuring innovation is encouraged and rewarded and meaningful jobs are created. Furthermore, illicit activity in the tobacco sector that robs the government of revenue, undermines public health objectives, impairs legitimate business and enriches organized crime ought to be a major concern in considering this public consultation. It is our hope that through this consultation and subsequent somber reflection the U.K. government will put this exercise aside.
As leading representatives of business, we rely on the rules-based international trade framework and its supporters to sustain economic growth, employment, innovation and prosperity. We will work hard to encourage governments, including the U.K. government, to reflect in what they do the importance of the rules based international system."