Philip Morris Keeps Heat on Counterfeiters

Philip Morris USA filed two lawsuits in federal court yesterday in Los Angeles, Calif., aimed at stopping the importation, distribution, and sale of counterfeit cigarettes and the unauthorized use of PM USA’s trademarks.

The suits arise from two seizures by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection at the Port of Los Angeles. Sorensen Lighted Controls of Hartford, Conn., was listed on Customs’ Notice of Seizure as the importer of record of 47,378 cartons of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes, with a date of entry into the port of January 8, 2008.

Similarly, Damakali S.A. de CV of Queretaro, Mexico, was named on a Customs’ Notice of Seizure as the importer of 28,260 cartons of counterfeit Marlboro and Marlboro Lights cigarettes with a date of entry into the port of December 20, 2007.

“Importing and selling counterfeit cigarettes is illegal, and the Marlboro brand is a frequent target of counterfeiters," said Charlie Whitaker, vice president of compliance and brand integrity for Altria Client Services, the parent company of PM USA. "These lawsuits are the latest in a series of actions that demonstrate our resolve to protecting PM USA’s valuable trademarks.”

PM 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 PM 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, PM USA has filed 30 other cases against counterfeit importers in federal courts in California, Florida, New York and Texas. In these cases, PM USA has prevailed against dozens of individuals and entities involved in the importation of counterfeit cigarettes.

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