PM USA Sues to Halt Importing of Counterfeit Smokes

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PM USA Sues to Halt Importing of Counterfeit Smokes

RICHMOND, Va. -- Philip Morris USA (PM USA) filed two lawsuits in federal court in the Eastern District of New York earlier this week against importers C.H. Rhodes of Flushing, N.Y., and U.S. Sun Star Trading Inc. of Brooklyn, N.Y., aimed at stopping the importation, distribution and sale of counterfeit cigarettes, along with the unauthorized use of PM USA's trademarks, the company said in a statement.

The suits were the result of two seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Port of Newark in 2005 and 2006, the company stated. In the 2005 seizure, C.H. Rhodes was named importer of record for 12,500 cartons of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes, according to PM USA, while in 2006, U.S. Sun Star Trading was the importer of record for 3,950 cartons of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes, the lawsuit alleges.

"Trafficking in counterfeit cigarettes is illegal, and we do not want our brands associated with illegal activity," Charlie Whitaker, vice president of compliance and brand integrity for PM USA, said in a statement. "We will take action to protect our brands and the legitimate channels through which our products are distributed and sold."

During the past four years, PM USA filed 29 cases in federal courts against counterfeit importers in California, Florida, New York and Texas.