Australia's highest court dealt a major blow to big tobacco Wednesday by upholding the country's new plain packaging laws for tobacco products.
The High Court of Australia dismissed claims by four major tobacco companies that the government illegally seized their intellectual property by prohibiting the display of trademarks on their products, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Australia will now become the first country to ban logos, branding, colors and promotional text on tobacco packages.,
Under the new rules, brand names will appear in a standardized type on olive-brown colored packets. Most of the front and back of the packages will contain health warnings and graphic images of the harmful effects of smoking.
Challenges to the new packaging requirements were brought by Japan Tobacco Inc., British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International Inc. and Imperial Tobacco Group.
Those four companies combined account for approximately 45 percent of the global market, equivalent to some 5.5 trillion cigarettes a year.
The Australian law, set to take effect Dec. 1, still faces challenges.
Ukraine, Honduras and the Dominican Republic are trying to challenge it through the World Trade Organization while Philip Morris is seeking arbitration from a United Nations tribunal.