Table 1

Protocol and Codentify/Inexto timeline

May 2003The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is adopted, with Article 15 requiring measures to eliminate the illicit tobacco trade.86 87
October 2004Philip Morris Products SA files European patent for ‘methods and systems for marking, tracking and authentication products’ (Codentify).88
February 2005The FCTC enters into force.89
September 2005Philip Morris Products SA files international patent for Codentify.90
September 2006Codentify patent enters the European regional phase.91
June/July 2007CoP2: decides to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to draft and negotiate a protocol on the illicit tobacco trade, under Article 15 of the FCTC.92
February 2008First meeting of the Protocol INB (INB1): consideration of expert group’s Protocol template.93
October 2008Protocol INB2: consideration of more elaborate Chairperson Protocol text (drafted by Chairperson with support from the Convention Secretariat and relevant experts).94
November 2008CoP3.95
February 2009Codentify patent is granted by Eurasian Patent
June to July 2009Protocol INB3: consideration of revised Chairperson Protocol text.97
March 2010Protocol INB4: drafting and negotiation of draft Protocol.98
November 2010CoP4: establishes an informal working group (IWG) on Part III (supply chain control) of the draft Protocol as consensus had not been reached in INB4.98 99 Philip Morris International (PMI) licenses Codentify for free to its main competitors100; Tobacco Industry Working Group on Digital Tax Verification is formed.101
July 2011First meeting of the IWG (IWG1).102
September 2011Second meeting of the IWG (IWG2).102
October 2011Digital Coding and Tracking Association (DCTA)—TTC front group to promote Codentify to governments19 103—registered in Zurich.
March 2012Protocol INB5: agreed on draft Protocol to present for adoption as CoP5.73
June 2012PMI makes €15 million donation to Interpol to work with DCTA.104
November 2012CoP5: the Protocol is adopted.105
January 2013The Protocol is open to signature by all Parties to the FCTC.106
April 2013European Codentify patent is updated to change the applicant from PMI to the DCTA.107
December 2013US Codentify patent is filed.108
January 2014The period for signature of Protocol closes.109
April 2014DCTA is the major sponsor of World Customs
Organization conference on illicit tobacco.11
May 2014KPMG and GS1 UK release a DCTA-funded report promoting Codentify.110
October 2014CoP6: requests the Convention Secretariat to establish a Panel of Experts on the Protocol (or Expert Panel on the Protocol), composed of up to two experts per WHO region, to provide technical and legal advice including on relevant existing good practices.111
April 2016Inexto established.112
May 2016Coordinating meeting of the Expert Panel on the Protocol.113
June 2016DCTA announces that it has sold Codentify to Inexto, and PMI claims it now complies with the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive.78
September 2016DCTA transfers ownership of Codentify’s European patent to Inexto.114
November 2016CoP7: requests Expert Panel on the Protocol to prepare for First Meeting of the Parties (MoP1) and support Party Protocol implementation. Also calls for Parties to reject any assistance on track and trace offered by the tobacco industry.115 Two trademarks for Codentify, covering Switzerland and the EU member states, are transferred to Inexto.116
June 2017First meeting of the Expert Panel on the Protocol.117
October to November 2017Internal TI documents show that senior management from PMI, Japan Tobacco International (JTI), British American Tobacco (BAT), Imperial Tobacco/Brands and representatives of Inexto, including the CEO, meet monthly under an ‘Operational Management Committee’.27
November 2017Second meeting of the Expert Panel on the Protocol.117
March 2018Third meeting of the Expert Panel on the Protocol.117
June 2018With 41 Parties, the conditions for the entry into force of the Protocol are met.
September 2018Protocol enters into force.118
October 2018CoP8119 and MoP1 on the Protocol: creation of a Working Group on tracking and tracing systems (T&T WG) and on assistance and cooperation in customs and enforcement matters (A&C WG).120
November 2019First meeting of the T&T WG.121 Consortium including Inexto wins T&T bid in Pakistan.82
December 2019First meeting of the A&C WG.122
  • BAT, British American Tobacco; CEO, chief executive officer; CoP, Conference of the Parties; EU, European Union; JTI, Japan Tobacco International; PMI, Philip Morris International; TI, tobacco industry; TTC, transnational tobacco company.