Australian court stops cigarette launch

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SYDNEY - The Australian Federal Court has stopped Philip Morris Ltd from launching its new Summit cigarette brand, ruling the proposed packaging and promotion was "deceptively similar" to that of WD & HO Wills (Australia) Ltd's established Horizon brand, thus amounting to deceptive and misleading conduct under the Trade Practices Act.

A temporary injunction against the Summit launch had been issued in August when the court case began.

The "look and feel" of the packaging was an important issue, said the court. Horizon uses five different shades of blue to indicate differing tar levels, has a white fluffy cloud logo, uses a serif font for the word Horizon, and a gold line under the name. Summit was to use four shades of blue, a white fluffy bird logo, a similar serif typeface and a silver line under the name.

Summit's proposed advertising theme line was to be: "Look over the Horizon to clearer skies. Summit has landed". Launched in 1991, Horizon is Australia's fourth largest selling cigarette brand, with 14% of the $5bn market.

"This is one of the rare occasions where a court has given protection to the sanctity of a brand by recognizing a specific combination of elements contained in packaging," said Wills' solicitor Katrina Rathie. "The significant finding is that you can have different names but still breach the Trade Practices Act."

Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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