Canberra: Tobacco companies accused the Australian government of destroying the value of their trademarks by forcing them to strip logos off cigarette packs as a court battle over the world’s toughest laws on cigarette promotion drew to a close Thursday.There was no immediate ruling following the three-day hearing in Australia’s High Court on whether strict plain-packaging laws violate the country’s constitution. The laws ban tobacco companies from displaying their distinctive colours, brand designs and logos on cigarette packs in a bid to make smoking less attractive.Cigarettes will instead be sold in drab, olive green packs, featuring graphic health warnings and images of cancer-riddled mouths and bulging, blinded eyeballs. The law takes effect in December.British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International have all challenged the new rules on the grounds that they violate intellectual property rights and devalue their trademarks. The companies are worried that the law will set a global precedent that could slash billions of dollars from the values of their brands.The tobacco companies’ main argument is that the government would unfairly benefit from the law by using cigarette packs as a platform to promote its own message, without compensating the cigarette makers. Australia’s constitution says the government can only acquire the property of others on “just terms”.
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