Australia's plain package tobacco law finally to be tested at WTO
* Australia set global precedent by banning tobacco logos
* Plaintiffs say hampers trade, hurts intellectual property
* Two years of delays at WTO over; challenge to be heard
By Tom Miles
GENEVA, April 25 (Reuters) - An Australian law forcing cigarette companies to sell their products in plain packets is about to be tested in court, diplomats at the World Trade Organization said on Friday, ending more than two years of procedural delay.
Cuba, Ukraine, Indonesia, Honduras and Dominican Republic have brought the action against Australia, the first country to ban the colourful logos used to sell tobacco brands around the world, a law aimed at reducing addiction and disease.
Opponents of the law, who say it is heavy-handed and an invitation to counterfeiters, had hoped other countries would hold off from following Australia's example pending a WTO verdict, but Britain, Ireland and New Zealand have already begun drafting similar legislation.
Since late 2012, tobacco products in Australia can only be sold in drab olive-coloured packets that look more like military or prison issue, with brands printed in small standardised fonts.
The five countries challenging it say the legislation is a barrier to trade and restricts intellectual property. Continuación...