RICHMOND , Va. The International Trade Commission has received a complaint filed by Phillip Morris USA to stop Internet-based cigarette vendors from selling illegally imported cigarettes and shipping them to the United States.
PM USA has alleged that the Internet companies are branding gray market cigarettes with the PM USA trademarks as well as the Marlboro mark, which the company claims is in violation of U.S. intellectual property laws and the Lanham Act, according to published reports.
Charlie Whitaker, vice president of Compliance and Brand Integrity for Phillip Morris stated that “Our brands are among our company’s most valuable assets, and we take many steps to protect them. 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.”
Phillip Morris’s plea for the blocking of cigarette imports from outside the USA is known as a general exclusion order, which would involve the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in halting all infringing imports from entering the U.S. The company has named 13 Web sites in the complaint and also identified an extra 177 additional Web sites engaged in illegal importation of cigarettes.