Proposed tobacco control measures such as mandating plain packaging of products and prohibiting the use of terms such as ‘light’ and ‘mild’ when associated with tobacco products raise the issue of to what degree WTO Members have regulatory freedom in relation to trademarks under the TRIPs Agreement. This paper uses these measures as a case study to examine rules relating to registration and use of trademarks. More particularly, the scope of Article 20 is addressed, as is the issue of whether TRIPs creates a positive right to use a trademark. This paper argues that no right of use is provided for by TRIPs and that Article 20, whilst not prohibiting the measures in question, is not based upon sound principle and is difficult to interpret. Finally, this paper argues that rules relating to use of trademarks require re-negotiation and that a minimum standard of protection for use of trademarks is not justified except where such a standard relates to principles of national treatment or most-favored-nation principles.
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