Cigarette-maker Philip Morris USA filed two lawsuits last week in U.S. District Court against 34 New York City retailers for selling counterfeit versions of the company's Marlboro brand cigarettes.
Philip Morris says it continues to take action against counterfeit sellers to protect its trademarks, support law enforcement, promote the lawful sale of its brands and safeguard the integrity of the legitimate distribution system. With this new lawsuit, Philip Morris says it has sued a total of 212 New York retailers for selling counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes.
In February 2011, Philip Morris reportedly also filed a lawsuit against two Chinese websites, Olymall.com and Owncig.com, which sold contraband Marlboro cigarettes to New York consumers.
Philip Morris estimates that there could be over three million packs of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes available annually in the New York City area, making it one of the top areas in the U.S. for counterfeit cigarettes. New York City reportedly has the highest cigarette tax rate in the country and is very profitable for those involved in the illicit cigarette trade.
Counterfeit cigarettes are often allegedly manufactured in China in unregulated facilities and then smuggled into the U.S.
The legal actions are ongoing and no legal timeline has been released yet by the company.