UPDATE 1-Indonesia brings fifth WTO challenge to Australia tobacco laws
By Tom Miles
GENEVA, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Indonesia launched a complaint against Australia's stringent tobacco packaging laws on Friday, becoming the fifth country to raise the restrictions at the World Trade Organization.
Australia has forced cigarette manufacturers to sell their products in drab green packets with no colourful logos since late 2012, as part of a health drive to cut down on the number of smokers.
Tobacco companies say their trademark rights are being infringed by the restrictions, which are widely seen as a test case for other schemes around the world.
Australia's laws broke trade agreements on technical barriers to trade and intellectual property rights, Indonesia said, according to a statement from the WTO.
Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Cuba have already filed complaints at the WTO about Australia's laws.
The earliest WTO ruling on the cases could come around mid-2014, with a possible final appeal judgment in the second half of the year.
The case could take months longer, however, if the other complainants decide to wait for Indonesia to catch up, and some WTO disputes have dragged on for years.