Phillip Morris Sues Cigarette Importers

January 9, 2007

(AP) Richmond based tobacco company Phillip Morris has filed lawsuits against two cigarrette importers for alleged counterfeiting and unauthorized use of the Marlboro trademark.

The Richmond-based firm, the nation's top tobacco company, filed separate federal suits in the Eastern District of New York against C.H. Rhodes and U.S. Sun Star Trading, both of New York.

The suits come after U.S. Customs and Border Protection confiscated about 16,450 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes in separate incidents when Rhodes and Sun Star were the respective importers of record.

Over the last few years, the federal government and many state governments have increased taxes on cigarettes, raising their overall prices. So-called gray-market vendors typically import cigarettes intended for foreign markets and sell them to consumers more cheaply than domestic products because they're untaxed.

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