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RICHMOND, Va. -- Philip Morris USA (PM USA) filed two lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, against Internet-based cigarette retailers -- www.paylessmoke.com and www.cigmall.net, among others -- claiming that the sites engaged in the sale of illegally imported cigarettes with PM USA's trademarks, including the Marlboro brand, the company stated.
"Philip Morris USA will protect our brands and the law-abiding businesses that sell them from unfair competition," Charlie Whitaker, vice president of compliance and brand integrity for PM USA, said in a statement. "We do not want our trademarks misused and do not want our brands associated with illegal activity."
The Web sites have sold cigarettes that were imported in violation of the Imported Cigarette Compliance Act of 2000, the law suit alleges. In addition, the defendants made false statements about the legality of the sales, and those vendors named in the lawsuit also fail to comply with applicable tax laws and the federal Jenkins Act, which requires Internet cigarette retailers to report all sales to the purchaser's home state taxing authority, the company stated.
Philip Morris USA pursues numerous strategies to address the sale of illegally imported, counterfeit, stolen and untaxed or under-taxed cigarettes, the company stated. PM USA supports efforts by authorities to enforce laws regarding cigarette trade. In addition, the company advocates enhanced federal and state-level legislation to address the sale of contraband cigarettes, along with pursuing litigation or other actions against parties that undermine law-abiding retailers and wholesalers, the company stated.