France prohibits the promotion of PMI project in motorcycle Grand Prix

In a referral order dated 15 May 2019, the interim relief judge of Le Mans ruled in favor of the Comité National Contre le Tabagisme (CNCT), a public organization whose mission is to ensure compliance with tobacco control legislation, to prohibit Philip Morris Product and Ducati to make or display any reference to Philip Morris’ Mission Winnow branding during the French motorcycle Grand Prix, as well as including it in any related communication related to the event.

According to the referral order, the CNCT stated in their reasoning for legal action that:

  • the link between Philip Morris and the “Winnow Mission” sport sponsorship project is established, and the “Mission Winnow” project aims in particular to financially support car and motorcycle racing stables;
  • the international brands database and the European Union reveals close links between “Mission Winnow” and tobacco, as well as its derivatives or associated products;
  • the colors of the “Mission Winnow” project and its logo clearly recall the Marlboro cigarette brand that has long been associated with motorsports;
  • professionals of the sector know perfectly well and clearly recognize that the “Winnow Mission” project only conceals sponsorship actions from a tobacco manufacturer and likens the project to a “return of Marlboro”.

The interim relief judge decided to prohibit “Philip Morris Products SA and Ducati Spa Motors from making any use of the mark, the logo, or the expression “Mission Winnow”, whether attached or not to the name “Ducati”, on the occasion of the Moto GP competition held on May 17, 18, and 19, 2019, at the Bugatti circuit in Le Mans or in the communication surrounding it, and this under penalty of € 10,000 per violation noted”.

Together, Philip Morris and Ducati companies were also ordered to pay the CNCT the sum of € 10,000 on the basis of Article 700 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Guidelines for implementation of Article 13 of the WHO FCTC recommend Parties to “ban brand” stretching and brand sharing, as they are means of tobacco advertising and promotion”.

“Brand stretching” occurs when a tobacco brand name, emblem, trademark, logo or trade insignia or any other distinctive feature (including distinctive colour combinations) is connected with a non-tobacco product or service in such a way that the tobacco product and the non-tobacco product or service are likely to be associated.

“Brand sharing” occurs when a brand name, emblem, trademark, logo or trade insignia or any other distinctive feature (including distinctive colour combinations) on a non-tobacco product or service is connected with a tobacco product or tobacco company in such a way that the tobacco product or company and the non-tobacco product or service are likely to be associated.

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