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RICHMOND, Va. -- Altria's Philip Morris USA (PM USA) filed a lawsuit last week in U. S. District Court against Mastic, N.Y.-based Tammy's Smoke Shop, alleging the retailer sold counterfeit versions of the company's Marlboro brand cigarettes. The lawsuit follows a seizure of 184 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes bearing Marlboro brand trademarks by Suffolk County police, the cigarette maker stated.
The lawsuit is aimed at stopping the sale of counterfeit cigarettes and the unauthorized use of PM USA's trademarks, according to the company.
"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," Joe Murillo, vice president and associate general counsel for Altria Client Services, said in a statement on behalf of PM USA. "Selling counterfeit cigarettes is illegal, and we will take appropriate action to protect our brands."
The lawsuit was prompted by consumer complaints to PM USA's call center. After receiving the calls, PM USA agents purchased cartons of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes from the retailer, the company stated.
In New York, PM USA has taken a number of recent actions to protect its trademarks, promote the lawful sale of its brands and safeguard the integrity of the distribution system, according to the company. Since 2002, PM USA filed lawsuits in New York against the owners and/or operators of 71 Internet sites, 21 defendants involved in illegally importing cigarettes and 139 retailers selling counterfeit cigarettes. It also provided information and support for law enforcement investigations involving contraband trade in cigarettes in New York, according to PM USA.
The company also advocates for legislative solutions to the state's contraband cigarette trade challenges. "We continue to urge the governor and legislature to pursue a comprehensive resolution to New York's cigarette tax evasion problems that will restore order and integrity to the legitimate trade in cigarettes," Murillo said in a statement.
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