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Enrico Bonadio: Limiting the use of brands on public health grounds

Public Lecture

Thursday 9 March, 18.00, room EB 206

The packaging and trade dress of an increasingly category of health related products (tobacco, alcohol, food and pharmaceuticals) is gradually shaped and physically defined more by the state than by the market. Measures which restrict the freedom to “populate” the packaging of the products in question are indeed increasingly adopted or proposed by governments and parliaments. While generally the common objective of most of these measures is to better inform consumers about the characteristics of the goods at stake, as far as harmful products (tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food) are specifically concerned, they basically often aim at dissuading people from actually consuming them. And they do so by minimizing the impact of trademarks and other packaging elements (also protectable by copyright, designs and other IP rights) on the overall aspect of the product. In their pursuit of public health targets, regulatory bodies are thus determined to restrict the ability of manufacturers in the industries in question to promote and market their goods as they wish, and to make the products appealing to consumers by using IP-protected eye-catching words, logos or ornamental features on the pack. The implementation of this new category of regulatory requirements raises therefore significant challenges for IP regimes.

Enrico Bonadio is Senior Lecturer in Law at The City Law School (London) and a Solicitor qualified to practise in England and Wales as well as in Italy.