Philip Morris Sues Internet-Based Cigarette Companies

By Agence France-Presse Philip Morris U.S.A. said Sept. 23 it filed lawsuits in courts in New York and California against Internet-based sellers of cigarettes, contending that their sales activities are unauthorized and illegal. The issue of Internet-based sales of cigarettes assumed greater importance in New York earlier this year when Mayor Michael Bloomberg imposed stringent new sales taxes that drove up the price of a pack of cigarettes to about $7.50 in most city tobacco outlets. Philip Morris said the defendants named in the lawsuits include Web sites identified as "Cheapmarlboro.com," "Discountcigs.homestead.com," "Discountcigarettes.cjb.net," "Discount-marlboro-cigarettes.com" and "Dutyfree-cigarettes.com." The New York-based company said the aim of the lawsuits is to stop the defendants' illegal use of Philip Morris U.S.A.'s trademarks, including its "Marlboro" trademark, and to stop the importation of the company's cigarettes in violation of federal law. The lawsuits allege that the defendants misused Philip Morris U.S.A.'s trademarks in an effort to attract Internet users to their Web sites. According to the company's court filings, Philip Morris U.S.A.'s trademarks were wrongfully used in Internet addresses, company names and promotional materials. In addition, the suits allege that in some instances, the defendants have made false statements about the legality of these sales. The court filings also said that some Internet-based cigarette vendors do not have appropriate mechanisms to verify the age of purchasers and some violate tax laws. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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