PM Goes on the Offensive

Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest tobacco company, is taking a New York retailer to court after it allegedly sold counterfeit cigarettes and illegally used the company’s Marlboro trademark, the Associated Press reported.

 

The accused retailer is N.Y.-based Tammy’s Smoke Shop, where 184 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes where reportedly confiscated on Tuesday by Suffolk County police.

 

Philip Morris was tipped off when consumers started calling with complaints about the cigarettes purchased from the same shop, and the company sent agents to buy cartons of the counterfeit product.

 

“The sale of counterfeit cigarettes undermines the value of Philip Morris USA’s brands and the legitimate channels through which our products are distributed and sold,” said Joe Murillo, vice president and associate general counsel for Altria Client Services.

 

Philip Morris is asking the court to ban the company from purchasing, distributing or selling counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes. It also is asking for the shop to turn over its profits from the illegal cigarettes, along with punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

 

Philip Morris said it has taken recent actions to protect its trademarks. Since 2002, it has filed lawsuits in New York alone against the owners and operators of 71 Internet sites, 21 defendants involved in illegally importing cigarettes and 139 retailers selling counterfeit cigarettes.

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