Philip Morris Takes Aim at Trademark Violations

Philip Morris USA, the world’s largest tobacco company, filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Central District of California against Nice Pak Products Inc. of Orangeburg, N.Y. The lawsuit is aimed at stopping the importation, distribution, and sale of counterfeit cigarettes and the unauthorized use of Philip Morris USA’s trademarks.

This suit arises from a seizure by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection at the Port of Los Angeles on August 24, 2007. Nice Pak Products was listed on Customs’ Notice of Seizure as the importer of record of 26,900 cartons of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes.

“Trafficking in counterfeit cigarettes is illegal, and we do not want our trademarks misused,” said Charlie Whitaker, vice president, Compliance and Brand Integrity, Philip Morris USA. “This represents the latest in a series of actions we are taking to protect our brands and the law abiding businesses that sell them from unfair competition.”

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 the 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’s trademark rights, contracts or trade policies.

This action is part of the company’s continuing civil litigation effort against importers of counterfeit cigarettes. Over the past four years, Philip Morris USA has filed 29 other 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 involved in the importation of counterfeit cigarettes.

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