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RICHMOND, Va. -- Philip Morris USA (PM USA) filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) to stop the illegal importation into the U.S. of gray market cigarettes bearing PM USA's trademarks, including the Marlboro mark, the company stated.
Internet-based cigarette vendors are unfairly selling cigarettes bearing PM USA's trademarks, in violation of U.S. intellectual property laws and the Lanham Act, the complaint alleged.
In addition, the complaint requests that the ITC issue a general exclusion order, requiring U.S. Customs & Border Protection to stop all infringing imports from entering the U.S., which would include such products sold by 13 Web sites that were allegedly named as respondents in the complaint, along with any other Web sites allegedly engaged in similar activity, according to the company. PM USA also identified 177 additional Web sites in its complaint.
"Our brands are among our company's most valuable assets, and we take many steps to protect them," Charlie Whitaker, vice president of compliance and brand integrity for PM USA, said in a statement. "Today, we are asking the ITC to issue an order to block hundreds of Internet vendors from bringing gray market cigarettes into the U.S."