U.S. agency to probe cigarette imports
The U.S. International Trade Commission said Tuesday it would investigate allegations by Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp. that four U.S. firms illegally imported its cigarettes.
The Brown & Williamson unit of British American Tobacco Plc. alleged that the firms -- Allstate Cigarette Distributors Inc., R.E. Tobacco Sales Inc., Prestige Storage & Distribution Inc., and Dood Enterprises Inc. -- broke U.S. trade rules by importing KOOL and Lucky Strike cigarettes that were manufactured for sale outside the United States.
"Importation of cigarettes meant for export constitutes an infringement of Brown & Williamson's trademarks in violation of federal law," the company said.
It asked the International Trade Commission (ITC) to block further imports of the cigarettes by the four firms, which are based in Florida and California.
"The ITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case," the commission said in a statement.
It could take the commission several months to complete its investigation.
Brown & Williamson, the nation's third largest tobacco manufacturer, is based in Louisville, Ky. The company's major brands include Kool, Lucky Strike, GPC, Carlton and Misty.