Law regulates the labeling of foodstuffs
The Chilean Ministry of Health recently passed a decree regarding the labeling of the nutritional compositions of food products. The new regulation aims at targeting food products that are intended for consumption by children under 14 years of age if they exceed specified limits of sodium, sugar, calories and saturated fats.
The new law, which will be in force from June 2016, will implement the use of warning messages and a graphic design on food labels to show that the aforementioned food components are above the established recommended limits. A warning message reading “High in” inside a black octagonal shape will have to be placed on the front of the food packaging, thus making them highly visible to consumers.
This decision has been criticized by the International Trademark Association (INTA) in a document recently submitted to the Chilean National Institute of Industrial Property (INAPI) commenting the National Intellectual Property Strategy for Chile.
In this document, INTA states that the new law “prohibits customers from distinguishing one set of products from another set of products, reduces the freedom of choice, and expropriates valuable trademark rights without due process.” INTA added that “reducing the ability to use trademarks due to the condensed space on packaging violates various international treaties on trademark protection,” such as the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), in particular Article 20 which states that “the use of a trademark in the course of trade shall not be unjustifiably encumbered by special requirements such as … use in a special form or use in a manner detrimental to its capability to distinguish the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.”