Philip Morris USA filed two lawsuits in federal court yesterday in the Eastern District of New York against importers, C.H. Rhodes of Flushing, N.Y., and U.S. Sun Star Trading Inc. of Brooklyn, N.Y. The lawsuits are aimed at stopping the importation, distribution, and sale of counterfeit cigarettes and the unauthorized use of Philip Morris USA’s trademarks.
These suits are the result of two seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Port of Newark in 2005 and 2006. In the 2005 seizure, C.H. Rhodes was the importer of record of 12,500 cartons of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes. In the 2006 seizure, U.S. Sun Star Trading, Inc. was the importer of record of 3,950 cartons of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes.
"Trafficking in counterfeit cigarettes is illegal and we do not want our brands associated with illegal activity," said Charlie Whitaker, vice president, Compliance and Brand Integrity, Philip Morris USA. "We will take action to protect our brands and the legitimate channels through which our products are distributed and sold."
Philip Morris USA pursues numerous strategies to address the sale of counterfeit, illegally imported, stolen and untaxed or under-taxed cigarettes. The company actively supports the efforts of authorities to enforce laws related to cigarette trade; advocates for enhanced federal and state legislation to address the sale of contraband cigarettes; and pursues litigation or other actions against those who violate Philip Morris USA trademark rights, contracts or trade policies.
Over the past four years, Philip Morris USA has filed 29 cases against counterfeit importers in federal courts in California, Florida, New York and Texas. In these cases, Philip Morris USA has prevailed against dozens of individuals and entities who were involved in the importation of counterfeit cigarettes.