February 17, 2011 - Philip Morris USA (PM USA, operating company of Altria Group Inc.) filed lawsuits Tuesday, February 15th against seven China-based online retailers for selling counterfeit versions of the company's Marlboro brand cigarettes to California consumers--the first time a U.S. company has sued a China-based website for selling counterfeit cigarettes to American consumers. PM USA also filed suit against eight retailers who recently sold counterfeit versions of the company's Marlboro brand cigarettes to Los Angeles-area consumers.
These lawsuits are part of the company's ongoing efforts to stop the sale of counterfeit cigarettes and the unauthorized use of PM USA's trademarks.
Directly related news brief:
Philip Morris USA seizes more counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes in New City area...
Interesting news brief we put together in July 2008 - Made-in-China Marlboros - a major mistake by Philip Morris International..
PM USA said it believes that counterfeit cigarette traffickers have established a foothold in the Los Angeles area, and that today Los Angeles is one of the top two markets for counterfeit cigarette activity in the United States. The actions and lawsuits are the culmination of a several month investigation involving the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office and other law enforcement agencies to address the sale of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes in the Los Angeles area.
These actions led to 10 arrests and the seizure of more than 9,200 packs of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes.
"The sale of counterfeit cigarettes defrauds adult smokers who believe they are buying genuine Marlboro cigarettes, resulting in significant lost revenue for the state, and is often driven by organized crime syndicates," said Joe Murillo, vice president and associate general counsel, Altria Client Services speaking on behalf of PM USA.
He added, "The sale of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes to U.S. consumers through China-based websites is an emerging problem. Selling counterfeit cigarettes is illegal, and we will continue to evolve our approach to take appropriate action to protect our brands."
Since 2002, PM USA has sued more than 2,800 retailers in California for selling counterfeit PM USA-branded cigarettes, in addition to seven websites.
The entities named in the lawsuits filed in the Central District of California are:
* Webvipshopping.com, Ren Kun Fang (owner/operator).
* usa001.com, Ren Kun Fang (owner/operator).
* Marlborocigarettesonline.com, Kenny Li (owner/operator), John Doe Walker (importer/distributor).
* Cheap-marlborocigarettes.com, Kenny Li (owner/operator).
* Chinacigarette.com, Andy Gong (owner/operator), Ma Fei (importer/distributor).
* Okcig.com, Li Ning (owner/operator), Yan Liang (importer/distributor).
* Cigarettesonshop.com, Unknown.
* Bran Tools New & Used, Los Angeles.
* Marcela Mini Market, Los Angeles.
* Quick Quick Mini Market, Panorama City, Calif.
* El Paraiso Party Supply, Compton, Calif.
* San Miguel Meat Market/Carniceria, Los Angeles.
* S.J. Del Rio, Los Angeles.
* Tacos Vallarta/Tacos Don Beto, Los Angeles.
* Zafiros Mini Market, Los Angeles.
Reference: PM USA Sues Websites, Retailers Goes after seven China-based sites, eight California stores over counterfeit smokes, CSP Daily News, 2/17/2011.