четверг, 28 июня 2007 г.

News

JURY RETURNS GUILTY VERDICT IN FEDERAL CIGAR COUNTERFEITING CASE

A federal jury returned a guilty verdict today in U.S. v. Juan Penton, a criminal counterfeiting case pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Case Number: 06-20169 CR-MORENO.

The jury found the defendant had violated the federally registered U.S. trademark rights of Altadis U.S.A. and General Cigar

"Obviously we're pleased with the outcome of the case," says an official of Altadis U.S.A., the world's largest manufacturer of cigars. "There was a fair trial and the jury has applied the law and found the defendant guilty of illegally using trademarks owned by Altadis U.S.A. and others on counterfeit cigars."

Industry experts estimate that annually the cigar counterfeiting problem involves the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of fake and inferior products to unsuspecting consumers.

The verdict is yet another in a series of actions that have taken place over the past year as part of an ongoing aggressive campaign by federal, state and local officials to put a halt to cigar counterfeiting. This conviction sends an important note to counterfeiters: counterfeiting will not be tolerated. It reconfirms the message Altadis U.S.A. has been conveying to those who produce, distribute and/or sell so-called "Cuban replica" cigars:

Any unauthorized use of Altadis U.S.A.'s trademarks is illegal. Labeling cigars "Habana" or calling them "Cuban replicas" does not make them legal.

Individuals who participate in the manufacture, distribution or sale of "Cuban replica" cigars will be held personally liable for their counterfeiting activities.

"This was another important victory for Altadis U.S.A. and its distributors and consumers as well as the entire industry," said Theo Folz, President and CEO of Altadis U.S.A. "In today's competitive world, protecting brand names and trade designs is critical for the successful marketing of brands, particularly those that have established a loyal following. Altadis U.S.A. remains committed to ensuring that Altadis U.S.A.'s trademarks are only associated with the cigars it produces under the high standards of quality for which they are known."

NOTICE TO THE TRADE

Altadis U.S.A. is strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of its trademark rights and will seek criminal prosecution of anyone who would infringe those rights. Altadis U.S.A. continues to work with state and federal law enforcement officials to use anti-counterfeiting laws to secure convictions of counterfeiters of our brands.

If we learn that any importer, distributor, retailer or other member of the Trade is dealing in counterfeit cigars or cigar packaging, we will proceed against the offender aggressively through civil and/or criminal channels. In addition to criminal prosecution, in appropriate cases, we will invoke the civil provision of the federal trademark law that allows courts to award trademark owners like Altadis U.S.A. up to $1 million in statutory (non-compensatory) damages per counterfeited mark, as well as their attorney's fees. We have been awarded damages and attorney's fees of $1 million to $2.25 million in such cases.

Altadis U.S.A. also continues to work successfully with U.S. Customs to arrange for the seizure and destruction of shipments of counterfeit cigars and packaging materials. Members of the Trade who have paid for cigars that turn out to be counterfeits and are thus seized by U.S. Customs should be aware that in such circumstances they will find themselves without recourse - counterfeiters do not refund monies nor are they in a position to make good with legitimate product with the quality and prestige of Altadis U.S.A.'s brands.

Altadis U.S.A.'s brands include, among others: Montecristo, H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta, Trinidad, Don Diego, Santa Damiana, Cabanas, Por Larranaga, La Corona, Saint Luis Rey and Quintero.

ALTADIS U.S.A. TO DONATE CIGARS TO TROOPS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN

Altadis U.S.A. has announced that it is donating nearly 20,000 premium cigars to the U.S. Marines serving on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Named "Cigars for a Marine," the project is being coordinated by Robert Zima, owner of Appleton Souvenir and Cigar in Appleton, Wisconsin, and Adrienne Palm, Manager of Appleton Cigar. Zima is also working with his local customers to organize donations and send packages.

"Cigars for a Marine" is the brainchild of two of Zima's customers; Benjamin Czap, an Iraqi Freedom Veteran and Brandon Salfai.

Altadis U.S.A.'s contribution is made up of cigars from a number of their brands including Romeo y Julieta and H. Upmann. "We are honored to support our Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Jim Colucci, Senior Vice President of Altadis U.S.A. "We are proud of the heroic work they are doing on the front lines to protect our country, and we hope that this donation brings them a few moments of well-deserved pleasure."

Appleton Souvenir and Cigar, which features a walk-in humidor, is located at 415 W. College Ave. Store hours are 10:30 AM to 9 PM Monday through Wednesday, 10:30 AM to 11 PM on Thursday and 10:30 AM to 12 AM on Friday and Saturday.

Anyone wishing to support "Cigars for a Marine" should contact Robert Zima at (920) 830-8349. Cigars will be sent to comply with the appropriate military requirements.

JUAN LOPEZ CIGAR MAKES CIGAR AFICIONADO'S TOP TEN LIST

A Juan Lopez Epicure No. 1 was selected by Cigar Aficionado magazine as one of the ten best cigars of 2005 as reported in the February issue.

Once a well-known Cuban brand, the current Juan Lopez was introduced in 2004 and is Altadis U.S.A.'s first Nicaraguan-made cigar. Described by the magazine as a "powerful and very dark Nicaraguan puro", the Juan Lopez Epicure No. 1 was rated "outstanding" by Cigar Aficionado. It measures 6 X 54 and retails for $5.50.

JUAN LOPEZ, GISPERT AND A. TURRENT MAKE CIGAR AFICIONADO'S BEST CIGARS LIST

In its February issue, Cigar Aficionado magazine named three Altadis U.S.A. cigars to their list of top cigars of 2005. A Juan Lopez Epicure No. 1 was named to the top ten, and a Gispert Maduro Robusto and an A. Turrent Churchill made the best 25. The list was compiled from over 400 cigars rated by the publication last year.

Once a well-known Cuban brand, the current Juan Lopez was introduced in 2004 and is Altadis U.S.A.'s first Nicaraguan-made cigar. Described by the magazine as "a powerful and very dark Nicaraguan puro", it was rated in the "outstanding" category. Juan Lopez cigars are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and retail in the $5.00 range.

Gispert, another old Cuban brand, was revived by Altadis U.S.A. in 2003. The Maduro version came out in 2005. Both the natural and maduro cigars are made in the company's Honduras factory. The Maduro Robusto, which received an "outstanding" rating, has a San Andres Morron wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Honduran and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. It is medium to full in body. The natural Gispert has a Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper. "If you think what the world needs is a great $3.00 cigar, the Gispert is for you," said Cigar Aficionado.

Introduced in the United States in 2005, the A. Turrent is the first cigar to bear the legendary Turrent name. The Turrents are the industry's oldest family of cigar makers and tobacco growers, and their tobacco is found in many of the most prestigious cigar brands. Rated "outstanding" by Cigar Aficionado the A. Turrent has "a rich, earthy flavor and a creamy medium body". A. Turrents are made with a Criollo San Andres wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and select Mexican filler tobaccos. Retail price is about $5.00.

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