Philip Morris USA Sues to Block Importation of Counterfeit Cigarettes

RICHMOND, Va. -- Philip Morris USA has filed two lawsuits in federal court this week in the Eastern District of New York against importers C.H. Rhodes of Flushing, N.Y., and U.S. Sun Star Trading, Inc. of Brooklyn, N.Y., alleging that the companies imported, distributed, and sold counterfeit cigarettes featuring the unauthorized use of Philip Morris USA's trademarks.

The suits come in the wake of two seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Newark, N.J. in 2005 and 2006. In the first seizure C.H. Rhodes was the importer of record of 12,500 cartons of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes, while in the second seizure U.S. Sun Star Trading, Inc. was the importer of record of 3,950 cartons of phony Marlboros.

Philip Morris said it employs numerous strategies to combat the sale of counterfeit, illegally imported, stolen, and untaxed or undertaxed cigarettes, including actively supporting authorities in their efforts to enforce laws related to cigarette trade, advocating for beefed-up federal and state legislation against the sale of contraband cigarettes, and pursuing litigation or other actions against those who allegedly violate Philip Morris USA trademark rights, contracts, or trade policies.

Over the past four years, Philip Morris USA has filed 29 cases against alleged counterfeit importers in federal courts in California, Florida, New York, and Texas, prevailing over what it calls "dozens" of defendants.
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